Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Notes about when to float a smallmouth bass stream in the Spring

Taking in to consideration the goal is catching nice fish and numbers. I am beginning to have a very definite idea when to float Indiana rivers versus when to wade streams for smallmouth bass. This article assumes...
1) Want to catch as many fish as possible
2) Keep chances high for bigger bass.
3) You are hardcore.
4) Springtime

When to kayak or canoe a stream.
1) Water is up. Up, not raged. Know your limits and be safe.
2) Water is green or murkier- not clear
3) Low light
4) Windy- Wind can suck to paddle in, but waves make you harder for Mr.Bass to spot.
5) You have first hand knowledge that the bass don't care.
6) Scouting mission- long float of new water.
7) Big water
8) Non-navigable stream with jerk landowners- the only way to fish without looking over your shoulder.
9) Target is inaccessible to foot.

Clear, low water with sunny skies is the absolute worst for fishing out of a kayak. The fish will be spooky. Every scrape of your hull will send them fleeing away. This can be trouble on a lot of small streams, you are better off wading.
Day CAN be salvaged by hunting deep water where bottom cannot easily be seen. The sun goes down a bit can also turn your day on in a hurry. try and time your float so you hit the best pools when the sun is not directly on the water.

Clear water is OK, possibly great with overcast skies. The fish can see your lure very well but not see you as well. They are a little less paranoid and venture further from cover. Bass seem to have more confidence in lower light.

A couple safe bets. Get out of your kayak before you get to the push water above a riffle. Dragging a canoe or kayak will often spook the hole below. I know it sucks to get up off your duff. You did get out to actually catch fish? Consider every riffle you float through is missed fish.

When to wade
1) Target hole is close to parking spot.
2) Abundance of steep or eroded banks to fish next to current. Fish from up high. This is a passerby in a kayak and a shame.
3) Low clear sunny days- head for the wood piles and boulder gardens. Sight fish with a tube or other finesse. Climb up on stuff with your felt studded boots like Spiderman. Wear polarized sun glasses.
4) Low water
5)High water- actually bank stomping is in order here. Be very careful and know your stream if you have to wade to cross. Often riffles are the best spots.
6)Lots of good consecutive holes.
7) On smaller streams the only advantage of a kayak is covering ground. Larger streams and river have plenty of wiggle room. You can paddle around likely bass holding spots easier.

Spring can see a lot of empty water the earlier you venture out. Don't be afraid to skip shallow sections. Try and fish around theoretical and known wintering holes. If you are smart about which you choose, you can see your fishing results improve nicely.

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