Sometimes a change in plans turns out to be better than expected – Sometimes.
Today I headed out to the Housatonic River for what I thought was going to be a chance to chase trout with dry flies. I arrived to find the river clear and low, with better wading conditions than I usually experience. Best of all, I had the water to myself.
The temperature was forecast to reach almost 90 degrees later in the day, so I knew this would be a morning session at best. The water was cool, which made it comfortable inside my waders, and let me know that I probably wouldn’t be stressing the fish either.
I tied on one of the dries recommended on the local fly shop’s web site. Rises were only sporadic, but there were rising fish.
After a half hour of casting with no takes, shakes or refusals, I decided to switch up my offering. Usually I go to a double nymph rig, but today I chose an olive woolly bugger. It was a bit heavy for my 9′ 4/5 wt., but I was mostly dead drifting in water that was 4 ft. deep with a reasonable current.
Within minutes I had a fish on. But it wasn’t a trout. It was too wide and too green. I initially thought it might be a bream. But it didn’t fight like a bream. It fought like a trout. Or a bass.
And so began an 4-hour stretch of catching smallmouth on streamers in the middle of the day in severe clear conditions. I stopped counting at a dozen, which coincidentally may have been when I started to feel some tightness in my arm from casting, fighting and stripping them in.
None were trophy size, but they all put up a good fight, easily comparable to trout. All were caught on woolly buggers – mostly olive, but black worked as well. I did test dries, nymphs and wets without success. It was clear that streamers were on the menu.
So has my trout spot disappeared entirely? Luckily the answer is No.
I did catch one 14″ brown on the olive woolly bugger. Much to my dismay, it broke off before I could get it into the net for a picture. To add insult to injury, or more accurately, injury to insult, I fell while returning the net to its holder. The water was only knee-deep, but it was enough to get inside my waders and drench me thoroughly. Any other time I would’ve complained and headed to the car for a change of clothes, but the cool water felt good on such a hot day. By the time I left the river, I had almost completely dried.
While it didn’t go as originally planned, this truly turned out to be a great trip. I learned more about catching smallmouth, and in the process, worked on my streamer technique. I don’t typically target smallies, and rarely use streamers, but this will change.
For juvenile smallmouth, my 4/5 wt. performed fine, although it was a little weak for tossing streamers. A 6 or 7 wt. rod is probably a better choice, especially if the smallies are over a pound.
Whether you’re going for trout, bass or something else entirely, remember the sun is at its hottest this time of year. Drink plenty of water and apply sunscreen frequently when you’re following fins. Enjoy!
Like you, I don’t typically target smallies but at this time of year, with low warm water conditions, I have gone downriver and found them to be lots of fun with a fly rod and Wooly Bugger. Nice outing there, Leigh. For some reason or another I can easily picture that tumble into the river (I do the same).
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