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Selective Smallmouth


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Thanks in part to Swisher and Richards pioneering work Selective Trout, fly anglers put more effort into correlating their feathered offerings to what's happening in and on the water. I had an experience on a northern Wisconsin boulder river yesterday that convinced me that smallmouth bass can be selective in their food preferences, too.

I'd waded and fished my way downstream through a stretch of water new to me using one of my favorite searching flies for smallmouth, a fluorescent orange over brown Clouser minnow. I caught a few smallmouth and one extremely agressive northern pike, but I was a little mystified when I came to an absolutely gorgeous piece of water that yielded very little. On my way back upstream, I hiked the bank. When I approached the water that had looked so good to me, I took the time to look at the water carefully. I saw a number of nice sized bass swimming about, but when I cast my Clouser near them, they'd either ignore it or even flare away. I had some crayfish woollies with me that I'd tied using tri-lobal antron chenille in the body. I'd mail ordered this stuff and had been grossed out by the color. It was supposed to be olive, but it was as least as blue as it was green. As it turns out, it wasn't a bad crayfish color. I switched to the woolly and bass that had flared away from the garish Clouser charged the more subdued woolly. I used that pattern through the end of the day and it was productive all day long. I think I'm going to pay more attention to the "hatch" from now on.

Incidentally, I think smallmouth action up north is heating up generally. I was on this same river a week ago under very similar conditions and action was much slower. Smallmouth bass are a great gamefish and fishing for them gets going in earnest just about the time insect hatches on local trout streams begin to ebb.

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Nice post. I am going to need to get my feet wet in the quest for some smallies very soon.


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