I did an after work wade on a far western stream. The mood hit me to return to a part of this stretch where I had a 60+ fish day last year. The water was extremely low, just a trickle. I could also see the immense damage done by the floods since last year. Many areas that held fish in the past were much shallower. Where did all those fish go. Smallies like to play tricks, but there was literally no place to hide.
It seems like the 12-15" fish really suffered from the flooding as I feel like I'm catching far, far less of them this year. Dinks and Pigs. Sadly. Today was more of the McSame. As the water warmed up most of my topwater tricks were a no-show. Tubes- nary a sniff. I put on Lil' Sammy 65 and started with a couple dinks and then a 12-13"er with a fat belly that exploded out from some roots in the shade to hit the bait. Again casting from well back on the gravel bank. Tried my best to stay low, in the shade and not spook the fish. Bright sunlight and clear water made it hard. Bass didn't want anything else. Seemed like Sammy 65 worked because of it's light splash and simlair size to the majority of instream minnows. Another 12"er under the bridge. A 12" hit the bait on impact. Some dinks.
Sun got directly overhead and bite died off. A few times I checked pools that used to be full of fish and found them shallow and empty with no apparent place to hide. After 5pm I hit a double layer of beaver dams and that explained the low water. Finally there was some depth.
This creek is famous for the mini ecosystems enclosed within dug out laydowns. The lare amount of silt in some areas fill in the inbetweens. But when the water is high the creek has good gradient so the rootwads have quite the washouts under them. Often a dropoff of 3' or more. There are almost always a few large bass under the logs and roots. Usually it's tubes and buzzbaits to get them out. Plastic bite has died for me with the lack of current. It's selecting the right noise that gets the strikes lately.
The Creek also has areas that lie within rocky clefts, bedrock bottoms with shale rock and plenty of places for SMB to hide. In it's southern stretches there is rarely any buffer strips as the land is farmed right up to the creek. Then there are areas where idiot rednecks drive their trucks in the creek bed.
Yet it survives- flourishes even. You just halve to walk- a lot.
So I walk up on one of these laydowns midstream. It has bovious depth around the roots as usual. At a bad angle for topwater so I quick snap on a tube and throw far ahead so I can drag it in. Mr.Tube succeeds in drawing a couple 18-20" Smallmouth into my sightline. They don't bite. They don't bite a senko. They don't bite a crank. Probably because of my profile and the kerplunks. I know now the bigger fish are on the table. I need to approach carefully and think about what I'm doing before I do it from here on out.
The creek snakes with a large log jam covering the inside bend one half the width the creek and piled high on the bank. The outside bend has a couple laydowns. In between deep water with big boulders. I don't approach. From the angle of the sun, I surmise a fish may be on the inside bend in the shade and cover of that logpile. I go up the bank and climb over the logpiles (some task). Spot empty clear riffle water and climb down, using the blocked Line of Sight from the log jam, I toss Lil' Sammy high over the logs downstream in close to the wood, completely covered in shade. Shake-a, Shake-a, Shake-a-Shake-a-----BOOOSH!!!!! BIG$%@%@%^ #!!! *Look out for the logs* *Rod tip up* *There he goes* UHHH! GET SOME! Lip. Measure. 18.5" No camera. Left at home. What kind of fricken fishing blog is this? Biggest fish yet on midget Sammy. Hmmm. More food for thought.
More extremely damaged banks and I hit a riffle push area where I land a fiesty 15"er on Lil'S. A couple more solid strikes miss, then a large deeper pool with lots of rough fish and dink that ignore my Russian roulette O' topwaters.
Finally I arrive at the next bridge. I fish the backwards 'S' above it and at the top of the backwards S there is a great little run with bubbly water and a big boulder. Let the 65mm Smallie magnet. Plooh. It hits the water soft. Shake-A, Shake-A, HUUUP! Durn another one! *Biggish* *Keep him off the boulder* * OMG he'll rub it out* ^%#$&^ *Drag over boulder* Oooh, it is a good one! GET SOME! Lip. Measure. 17.5" No camera. Lil' Sammy?!?!?!?
Dink here, dink there. Much improved habitat. High shale walls climb 60' or more above. Bedrock below my feet- so loud, fish flee, must get to next good pool...
Land a 14"er who steals it from a 16"+er.
Dink on SPT 90.
Big pool. Big Pool empty. Getting Late. Buzzbait gets slammed- MISS!
Another typical rootwad. Good fish slams Lil' Sammy after streaking from 10' away. Dives for front of rootwad- *get him out of there* UGGHHH. Lost. 16-17"er from what I could tell. Walk up and look in the rootwad. Some of the deepest water seen today. Well over 3'. Clearly can see plenty of room underneath the tree between the roots for fish to lay.
Finally get out of the bedrock and onto some shale. I hit a pool on a bend that gets deep. Probably 4-5' in the rainier months. I really have to turn back. I put on a Wolkabuzz for the power walk back. My cross court cast provokes a streaking miss that sounded like this FFFFFWWWWUUUP!!. I thow on a popper to let him know he wounded it. He doesn't care. On goes the Wolkabuzz again. I throw a couple slightly upstream. A large fish streaks in chasing it like mad as I burn it back. In danger of running shallow, I pause to get him to commit then burn even faster. The sow closes the gap and seals the deal. It sounded something like this: SSSHHHFUUP!!! ZZZZ....ZZZZZ....ZZZZ Ughh. Man! Gotcha! Lip. Measure. 18.5" No camera.
Later now. Must go. I walked a couple miles and it is like 6:15. Shortcut through bean field. People in White Jetta give me a ride back to my car. THANKS!!!
18 SMB (2 18.5, 17.5", 15")