Mike and I recently did a float. The air temp was around 55f. We hit a new stretch of river. It was beautiful. High cliffs, bends, riffles, chunk rock the entire length, gradient, and deep holes.
When I say deep holes, there is no telling how deep. Guessed one at 14-15'. I am out of my depth fishing a river that deep and that sexy this early in the year. My crankbait pattern disappeared for me- or floated harmlessly over their heads.
Mike picked up a couple on a crank as we admired the scenery. The river seemed empty. At one point, I saw a large smallmouth bass about 3-4' down behind a boulder. Right after I floated over him.
We got into a lot of flat bedrock areas where the gradient was pumping and it turned a frustrating day of fishing into a good time. We finally entered a very large pool and knew enough to get out of the boats first. There was a drop off ledge where current trickled through on one half and blasted through on our half. It opened up into a pool 50 yards wide and 75 yards long. Mike threw a jerkbait into the slower current and got bit three times, with a couple of 14"ers, then this fat 18".
I threw on a pointer 100, lost a fish 16" right at my feet in current, on the next cast, this 17.25" came to hand:
BAM! BAM! BAM! Then it was over. The highlight of the trip.
This stretch had it all. Early to fish it with our limited knowledge. It was very hard to fish slow with the gradient there. We didn't know when a deep spot was coming up, you'd get one or two casts and then drift by. Anchors rarely held.
We agreed it looked like smallmouth should be everywhere. They weren't. We'll hit it again late summer when the fish are hitting buzzbait to get a better idea where they locate.
This is part of my approach in fishing a new stretch; hit it when water is low and somewhat clear. Polarized glasses give you an idea what lay below. Identify the likely hot spots- hit them on foot when they can be picked apart better. On this float there was always the threat we wouldn't get off the 7.3 mile float in time. Also, we didn't combine the time of year where fish are more active and spread out. In that deep, unfamiliar water, it would be easy to miss spots.
It was Mike's day
MC SMB 6 (18") 1 Rockbass, 1 Chub
BT SMB 1 (17.25") 1 Rockbass