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Born again Smallmouth bass

Posted by Sandy 
Born again Smallmouth bass
August 10, 2015 02:59PM
I fished a small creek in North Central Montana that has a mixture of rainbows and smallmouth bass.

The bass definitely have more oomph and moxey than the rainbows. Fight longer too. What a gas. These were small fish. 8" to 15" inches long. I did hook one even bigger but it jumped and threw the hook before I got it set.

I want more. There aren't that many bass in Montana. Below Moroney dam on the Missouri there is a 16 mile float down to Carter Ferry. The Lower Yellowstone, below Billings. The Lower Big Horn, from the Yellowstone up 15 miles to a major irrigation diversion that may or may not be blocking the bass from further upstream. The John Day River in Eastern Oregon has a few three day smallmouth bass camping floats too. Ray Heater told me it was a blast, years ago, and it never sunk in.

How do you catch them? Big foam grasshoppers. Or streamers of any kind. But if you dead drift those streamers you'd swear there wasn't a fish. Start to twitch the fly, and strip it in. And boom. Holy shit. What a fish. What a fish. This the fly they seemed to like best. Although the one I actually fished two days back a bit more flash than this one. A bit more crinkly Crystal Flash at the pectoral fins.

Re: Born again Smallmouth bass
August 26, 2015 05:59PM
Smallies are a main target for river fishing in Minnesota and Wisconsin. My favorite fly - hands down - is a silver and white Murdoch Minnow. But smallies are supposed to strongly favor crayfish, which may explain the success of your creation. I may need to crank out of few of them. Rob
Re: Born again Smallmouth bass
August 27, 2015 12:59PM
Found this on the net--labeled the Murdoch Minnow. I like it. I recently read an article about Smallmouth fishing on the John Day River in Eastern Oregon, which touted flat tail (molded) worms as their favorite "bait." Someone recently caught a new Montana State Record--or nearly so anyway--almost seven pound Smallmouth on Fort Peck Reservoir. I need to get up there.

I have a 20hp Merc that fits on the back of a flat-bottomed driftboat I built, just so I could have a motor boat. The winds on Fort Peck are famous, and can easily tip over a small boat like mine. I'd have to stay close to shore. Or buy an 18' foot or 20' foot walleye boat with a 100hp Honda. I'm 67. I can still wade the rivers. With the best of them. But I can also see the hand writing on the wall. Bigger boats are in my future.

Re: Born again Smallmouth bass
September 03, 2015 05:40PM
I've found that smallies like jig flies jigged, in other words dead drifted with periodic short but sharp upward jerks of the rod.

Also, when I fish for bass of any kind I leave the barb on my hooks. I seem to be able to land trout just fine with barbless hooks, but bass have a knack for throwing jigs when they jump, which they do with aplomb.

And, I agree. Smallmouth bass are world-class athletes.
Re: Born again Smallmouth bass
September 11, 2015 08:39PM
Maybe the only original American fly style is the Bass Fly?

I agree that smallies are an incredible overlooked fly target and exceptional fun. I've seen smallies attack hooked trout that are as long as they are. I've also had trouble keeping large smallmouth on barbless hooks.

We have an excellent smallmouth fishery on the Willamette and Columbia rivers, the big ones seem to stay deep and are difficult to get to with flies. So I resort to old tools like this 1930's Goodwin Granger bait caster.

John Day is a lot of fun, the amount of small mouth is incredible, at some point it would seem they would stunt the growth of the fishery.
Re: Born again Smallmouth bass
September 12, 2015 10:38PM
I've got to get to the John Day some day. Ray Heater mentioned it a few years ago. The Lower Yellowstone is coming on strong now too. From Billings on downstream. I'm heading out that way in a few daze.

I'm going to be building one last boat this winter. Will it be ready to go by next season? Depends on how old I am. Will be a decked 17' footer for big white water and camping trips. It will be fun to fish from too. I hope. I read somewhere the John Day is at its best March through April. I won't be ready by then. But perhaps by July.
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