Smallies, not Steelhead


We got skunked steelheading.  No worries, as the smallmouth fishing was cooperative!  This weekend, Mike and I headed to a local tributary to target drop back (post-spawn) steelhead.  With bright sun and clear, low water, we never saw a steelhead. Darn, they were in there just a few days ago…

IMG_5089Fortunately,  we managed to coax half a dozen feisty smallmouth.  If you located the right water (gravel/seams/good current/3′ depth) we found cooperative fish.  I fished a small olive bugger and then white, baitfish patterns.  Initially, I never moved a fish.  Mike quickly figured out that fish preferred large, black buggers (3″).  He fished the same water that I previously fished.  They were ignoring my small offerings.  Once he switched to a 5″ olive articulated fly, he generated even more aggressive bites.  My largest fish also came on an oversized olive pattern.  These were strong, acrobatic smallmouth that hammered a swinging, or actively retrieved fly.  In addition, I lost a decent pike that flared it’s gills to inhale a large, flashy brown pattern.  Our connection was short, as the chomp cleanly nipped my 8 lb flourocarbon tippet.

Regarding smallmouth, most fish came within a foot of the bank, or against logs.  Mike enticingly dangled his streamer between a logjam and managed the best fish of the day, a 4 pound smallie.  The only hardship was cleaning your leader and fly of the floating algae.  On most casts, you couldn’t fish your fly more than a few feet without getting it fouled.  With all the floating debris in the creek, perhaps that’s a reason the fish chomped on larger, oversized fly patterns!  Oversized flies stood out.  Or, perhaps that larger offering better triggered a predatory response.  Tap into your predatory instinct! Get outside, get on the water and enjoy a local fishery!IMG_5101

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Craig Dennison

This is Craig and I host Fly Fisher's Workshop. My fly fishing experiences include plenty of travel (Montana/Florida/North Carolina/Maine) and a few years part time guiding for trout. While I primarily target trout and steelhead, I still manage to chase warm water species and enjoy chasing stripers and bluefish. I'm a 3rd generation fly fisher trying to share the passion with my two sons!

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