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In reviewing notes about this past season, one thing stands out about River kayak fishing and guiding for Smallmouth Bass. That is, if you are not able to adapt or change things up, you will be left saying ‘the fish were just not biting today’.
I had the privilege to fish with a number of anglers this season. Some who were already fishermen, and some who were not. Some had fished for smallies and some had not. Some had paddled a kayak, and some had not. But there was one constant that kept coming to the forefront with a productive day, or days that simply ended with a goal of not getting skunked! This constant was the act of adapting to the day and finding a pattern to the fish for that particular river given the; time of day, weather conditions, water clarity (or the lack thereof) and ability and mood of the angler.
Sticking to one lure all day is sometimes the best thing you can do while smallmouth fishing, or it can be the worst. I have seen lures work all day, some of the day, and none of the day. But it is the angler that is capable of making the choice, or decision, to change things up a little to find the bite. Sometimes that means abandoning a lure that is seemingly working after a couple bites to find a bigger or more aggressive bite. Sometimes it means working a different column of water to see where the fish are holding as a pattern. If there is one advantage I think any angler has over another with River fishing for Smallies, it would be having the skillset to fish every column of water with various types of lures, whether that be fly fishing or spin fishing. If you can confidently fish many types of lures at the different depths of the water column, you will likely find success even on the most difficult of river conditions.
If you are interested in learning how to fish some of these different styles, try picking one technique and only fish that lure and style on your next outing. Find the many different ways you can rig that lure, use the current, alter retrieve speeds and presentation types to alter the way that specific lure fishes. This will ensure that you become much more confident in that specific style of fishing, within that specific water column depth. And we all know that confidence in a lure catches fish! Without confidence, your presentations and lure actions will not look realistic and you will be leaving the water with that skunked feeling-and that’s stinky!
Gaining confidence by only using one lure type on a fishing outing will give you a feast or famine sense that will really have you jumping for joy when you catch fish. We have rivers and streams where different tactics work for different bodies of water. But you always have to be ready for the changing conditions that occur while on the water. So the next time you are ready to hit the water, try using a lure or rig that you are less than familiar with and see what happens.
And of course, give us a try to see what some of the approaches and styles of fishing are that we employ. NC River Angler, LLC is not just a fishing guide, but also a teaching service. We do not guarantee you will catch fish, because we cannot control Mother Nature, but we do guarantee you will learn something new about fishing for Smallmouth Bass and River fishing techniques! And please do not be fooled by imitations of a no catch-no pay guarantee, you may be left feeling like there was a no lesson taught atmosphere! We teach techniques that DO catch fish, so you WILL be set up for success in the future. You know the motto, ‘teach a man to fish’…
With the season winding down, NCRA wanted to remind everyone that this Jackson Coosa is now for sale. If you are looking for a SOT river boat contact us or Dan River Company. The Coosa was used this season (April to October) will be sold for $900 and includes a bending branches paddle!
Last Sunday was spent on the Yadkin River, shuttled by Yadkin River Adventures, with repeat client and friend Igor, who has spent several trips with NCRA this year. He was in the market for a kayak and we were able to try several kayaks before he decided on a Native Manta Ray. Igor wanted to venture to a new stretch of River and given the currently clear water conditions of this stretch, the looming October bite of the Smallmouth Bass and the impending front coming through on Monday, I was hoping for good conditions.
The morning started slowly. We had a few bites but were not landing fish. I lost a nice Spotted Bass that wrapped itself around a submerged branch, and a nice smallmouth that broke off just before I could land it. Then Igor landed a nice smallie and things turned around for the latter part of the day. Igor caught his first ever Spotted Bass and several smallies. The spotted bass were very active, catching them 2 to 1 to the smallies.
We have a few videos of landing a couple smallies that highlight the fun of kayak fishing for smallmouth bass. The Manta Ray worked great for igor, holding a line nicely and keeping him in position to keep that lure in the water and that paddle in the paddle holder.
This day was another good example of when fishing starts out tough, you have to keep trying new things, stay positive and be pro-active. Developing a pattern for the day and experimenting with lures, colors and finding the right structure will often lead to a bite! Go with the flow!
Last Saturday NCRA was back on the Dan River for Smallmouth Bass with Shellrake Flies. Acey visited a few weeks back for his first Smallmouth Bass, on none other than his own flies (of which NCRA has been using this season), and promised to come back in October when the bigger fish were biting.
It was a tough day on the water. The bite slowly picked up, only after I switched to the spinning rod. We landed several smallies, one largemouth and 2 spotted bass, resulting in a bass slam, which happened a day earlier than I had expected. I have never caught spotted bass in the Dan. I expect to see them farther downstream, but not where we were. We also caught two suckers, which indicates to me that they, and the smallies, are starting to school up for the Winter. For the rest of this season when you have a bite be sure to keep fishing that same hole, you will be likely to catch another fish or two (more about that on a future post about fishing the very next day).
Saturday was a prime example of sticking with it when the going gets tough, when you are fishing. Unfortunately for Acey, the fish were finicky with the flies. This is a direct result of just how finicky that smallmouth bass can be! I was able to persuade a few fish to bite, after switching to a soft plastic on the spinning rod, so that I could reach to greater depths in the water column. The fish seemed to be holding right on the bottom.
I hope when Acey returns the smallies will bite more on the fly (OTF)! Shellrake Flies have been a big hit with cleints of NCRA this year. There are several patterns to choose from and they all have smallie ‘bait’ written all over them! Check out Shellrake Flies for a Smallmouth Bass Fly Set that covers top water and some streamers that will get you down deeper as well…
This past weekend was spent on three different Rivers. Two trips were with friends and business partners and the third was with a repeat client and friend, who requested a new stretch of River to fish. I tried to take advantage of the clearer waters, especially since our Rivers were washed out so much with rain this year. The Fall time bite is also pretty exciting, with cooler weather, changing of the leaves and seasons and fish feeding up for the approaching Winter.
Friday I spent the evening on the Smith River located near Bassett, just into Virginia, with Brian Williams and Lisa ‘Cricket’Hall from Smith River Outfitters. Brian and Cricket were excellent hosts, are great fishers and the Smith River is a place to be sure and add on your list of fishing/paddling destinations. Rainbow trout are stocked but it is the elusive Brown trout that you will be after. The Smith River is a beautiful River with great potential for trout upstream and some great Smallmouth bass fishing downstream, where it empties into the Dan River.
Brian and Cricket were not terribly excited about Philpott Dam releasing for both generators, resulting in a little too much water, but they have the perfect craft for such an adventure. While the fishing is not the best at these flows, the ride in the raft is fun and a great vessel for fishing! At the take-out where we met, the flow was near 80 cfs, and when we put in upstream they indicated the flow was close to 650 cfs, that’s quite the flow swing! Typically the trout bite is best on the ‘falling tide’ after the generation has stopped, but we had our date and time that worked for everyone-so we were going fishing!
The wild Brown trout on the Smith are not stocked and are naturally reproducing, so you can imagine that Brian and Cricket are pretty excited about their River having these fine specimen! In fact, that is all that I caught on the fly. It took some finagling and re-sorting of my Smallmouth fly gear, but eventually I got the hang of it…
I look forward to our working relationship and getting these folks down to NC for Smallmouth bass fishing from the kayak, however if that raft makes it down this way we can certainly put it to use (hint-hint)…I also look forward to putting my Virginia Trout stamp to good use this Winter, but am also excited about seeing Smith River Outfitters soon in North Carolina, fishing with NC River Angler, LLC for Smallmouth bass!
A short while back, Shellrake Flies met with NCRA for their first ever trip to target smallmouth bass. The flies got wet and Shellrake got hooked, literally and figuratively!
We have had fun coming up with flies with Shellrake Flies. And we have found so far, if you tie it they will come. Shellrake Flies has done a great job at the vise, check them out for some smallie flies.
NCRA is looking forward to a return visit from Shellrake Flies for some Fall time smallie action. We are hoping for some nice smallies, perhaps not as many but a few larger ones mixed in the bag…