Friday, May 15, 2009

Wading the Clear, Sunny Day for Stream Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass are a spooky fish a lot of the time. In my last report, the waters were pretty clear. Thankfully, I had a lot of overhead shade to hide in. Baitfish and suckers were very spooky, which usually means avoid spooking any fish to maximize the opportunities at catching bass.

It took me a while to figure out how spooky the bass were, what they would bite, and what types of areas they were keying on. It was a battle to stay patient on an exciting new stream, avoid running and gunning too fast on what was obviously a finesse bite day. Each new eager riffle begged a couple more shuffle steps. Counter productive of course. I constantly jockeyed for better vision down in the water, hoping to spot the clue to unlock this new puzzle I was standing in.

I saw some footprints on my wade. Appeared a couple days old. Standing too close to hole now and then. Probably throwing too light of a lure from too close. The bass were already scattered by the time they got there.

It reminded how hard it can be to target smallies in an open stream with clear water on a sunny day. The biggest mistake people make is to walk up on a hole and make short casts without absolute stealth.

It's important to note the direction of the suns rays, just as a hunter worries if he's downwind from his prey. Wear neutral colors for shirts, hats, and pants. Blend. Keep your profile below the horizon, make few sudden movements. Watch where and on what you step.

You can make long casts, hoping to out throw the noise you make. A fish's lateral line will sense the noises you make from further away than most people think. The quieter cat catches bigger mice here.

We all lose fish every time out on the stream making too much noise walking, climbing, and casting.

We all lose fish when our shadows fall.

We all lose fish by not fishing wood hard on these days.

The short game works when you can get up near some log jams and lay downs. Smallies always like laydowns and logjams. On bright sun/clear water days, they are probably packed thick under there. You can get surprisingly close when wood is concerned. Deeper water helps too. Use heavier weights on your jigs to get them down to the bass under logs and roots.

Throw baits beyond the target, up on shore, bounced of lay downs, skipped in softly, or feathered in lightly to avoid spooking bass on splashdown. Use polarized sunglasses always to help for visual clues as to the Mr.Smallmouth's mood.

Were the smallmouth bass really not biting? Were you not stealthy enough? Combine this approach with rotating of different water column presentations at different speeds until you find the answer.

Be patient, be undetected, and be rewarded.


  1. Excellent post, BT! You are right on the money with your suggestions. We all need to practice the suggestions you make, and then practice some more. If you do, the fish will come.

  2. Excellent article! You should organize some of your articles and publish a book after a few years, maybe on some self publishing site like

  3. Thanks, guys.

    I ran into a couple locals on the walk back to the car. They were fishing twin tailed grubs and throwing about 15-20' in front of themselves. Standing right in the middle of the hole.

    Was going to say something, but then I saw a stringer. The way they fish, the probably don't even know the smallmouth get 18"+ in their stream.

    Jeff, it's already like a book for me. Love being able to go back and see how I succeeded or failed and how. Might be an idea to try since it would all be written out.