This one makes me smile to tell. One of the great things about fishing for me is when a theory or hunch pans out, when one action causes a chain reaction that reveals more about smallie behaviour. Turn right instead of left and no results. Turn left...
This winter, I've made a habit to get out and try Float and Fly on new streams and new winter holes on familiar streams. It's paying off in information and the numbers have been surprisingly good. Travel time and long walks eat into fishing time, but it has paid off immediately with fish at the new holes.
MC and I set out for a winter honey hole by 1pm, one long walk through the woods later at 25F and 15mph winds, the eddy had a 1/4" of slush ice from yesterday's 'snow'. We tried to push the 50 yards of covering ice into the current, but the thinness made it impossible.
We hit another spot and finally decided to hit one of the inside bends I caught fish at yesterday. Mike nabbed a fish on a tube and I one on FnF. My float sunk and this 17"er came to hand. The fish had a viscous back wound from flood projectiles or a heron.
After those three fish we headed up through some shallow bedrock to try a theoretical winter hole a half mile upstream. When we got there, the eddy I wanted was covered in ice again. This time I pushed the 20 yard flow out to sea.
I was dancing my fly when it sunk and a dink came to hand. Right from under where the ice had been 10 minutes before! Soon I was getting bit again, by this 18.25" bass.
Then a couple more 13-14" bass. I was squibb walking then pausing the fly occasionally. Almost fleeing the fly from the spot I now knew held a large amount of fish. A variation of jerk, jerk, pause at a much slower rate. Perhaps moving 8" in 15 seconds. My float sank again as Mike watched, I landed another 18" smallmouth bass:
Mike tried everything but couldn't get bit. Same colored fly, same general area.
A couple more 13-14" bass. One more hit while slowly squibbing the float, this one felt big, the fish made an incredible run towards shore and the rootwads of a tree to my right. I was just able to turn him. Wow. Another chunk 18.25" smallmouth bass.
If that dink fish hadn't hit my fly after I pushed off the ice, I never would have located the next 7 bass. Usually, with FnF the fish will reveal their location like this, then one can nab some more until they spook or move off. All 8 of those bass and the sucker came from a 10' by 10' area. It would have been easy to overlook. This would be a fine example of having patience to fish a winter area knowing many fish populate the area- giving me the confidence to keep at the spot. I knew there was a good chance to find them. So from here I have another go to hole to add to the collection.
Why did I pick that hole? Far enough removed from people. Sammytime 2007, several blowups from big fish I never caught in the past. This summer, attacks from big fish or sightings passing through. I spotted a depression in that area in summer filled with rough fish. So summertime scouting paid off and float and fly nabbed me three nice fish I couldn't get at with conventional warmwater gear.
10SMB(2 18.25", 18", 17", 2-14-14.5")1 Golden Redhorse in 4.5 hours of fishing.