Housy smallmouth: The hits just keep on coming

The Farmington continues to struggle with low flows. I spoke with an angler today who fished it recently, and he said he was so discouraged by the water levels that he left after 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another part of the state, the upper TMA section of the Hous was flowing at just over 200cfs, and 74 degrees. Fine conditions for an evening of wading and casting for smallmouth bass. Things started off slow — I began at 6:45pm in a section I’ve hit repeatedly, but has not produced numbers or size. I’m at a loss to explain why. It’s deep, it’s got moving water, and lots of boulders. All that’s really missing is a sign that says “Get Your Smallies Here!” Nontheless, two unremarkable bumps were all I could manage.

However, Honey Hole 1 (my name for it) continues to impress. It’s a fairly nondescript run, but it has held a good number of decent sized bass every time I’ve fished it. By 8pm I was working my way downriver to Honey Hole 2 (see parens above). HH2 fished a little differently in the higher water — the fish were more widely spread out than in previous trips. Here are a few notes from last night:

Unlike trout, smallies rising to flies will crush a big streamer thrown in their general direction. I caught countless bass last night at dusk by simply aiming for rise rings.

A larger fly doesn’t necessarily cull the smaller fish. I’m still trying to understand how some of the little guys I landed got a 4x long size 2 streamer hook entirely into their mouth.

Like with trout, the action seems to taper off at dark. Hatch over, time for a feeding break? I’d like to stay well past dark one of these nights and see if the action picks up.

Housy smallies love sunken streamers as well as waking surface flies.

I’m continuing to test a prototype of a floating version of the Deep Threat. (Once semi-perfected, I’ll post it.) So far, so good. Wait. Make that very good.

“Is that the foot-long?” “And then some.” (Bonus points if you can name the cheesy 80s comedy those lines come from. Hint: it stars a future Oscar winner.) This was my best bass of the night, coming in at 13 inches, a very respectable size for this river. He threw acrobatic leaps and generally obstreperous behavior into the bargain.

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Housy Smallmouth Report: Gluttons for punishment

It would be safe to say that smallmouth on the fly is a current addiction. Back for more last night, a shorter session at three hours (6pm-9pm), and quite different from Monday’s.

For starters, the water was up a wee bit (180 cfs and rising) and perhaps had a bit more color. While not Africa hot, the air was rain forest humid. I got soaked just walking from the truck to the river. And the overall action was off, in terms of general size and numbers. But yessiree Bob, it was still good.

How to tell it’s summertime by the river. We get these along the Farmington, too.

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The surface action window was brief, about a half hour, and I didn’t even bother trying to fish with classic dry flies. I saw a few caddis and a handful of white flies (and the ever-present midges) — clearly the smallies were keyed on emerging bugs. I sat on a rock, enjoying my cigar, and as it got dark I went to work on some risers with a size 6 olive Zoo Cougar. That was fun, but for me the main event would be testing a prototype surface bug I’ve been working on, a floating/neutrally buoyant version of the Deep Threat, size 4. (More once I get it ironed out.) On it went, and….nothing. And more nothing. Finally, a respectable bass. Then another, a little bigger. I saw a splashy rise down the pool and parked the fly over it on my next cast.

KA-BLAM!!! It was one of those takes where you knew you had a good fish on from the moment the transaction went down. As soon as I came tight to the bass he went airborne. I cackled out loud, which you can do with impunity when you’re alone on a river. Thrust and parry, thrust and parry, my forearm burning with fatigue. (This is surely why God created 0x leaders.) And there he was. A smallmouth you could measure in pounds instead of inches. (Yeah, I know, low pounds, but please let me have my moment of glory unmolested.)

I’ve now landed a mid-teens Housy smallmouth and a mid-teens Farmington wild brown, and I gotta tell you, with all due respect to Salmo trutta, that it’s not even a contest when it comes to battle skills. 

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So, the new fly works.

It’s probably not a wise decision to do an impromptu victory dance while you’re wading out of a river in the dark. But I couldn’t resist.