Summer Bassin’ & Relentless Fly Fishing

Roasted the Boogle Bug, and bent the 8wt in half.

When you and your fishing buddies are all fly fishing guides, it can be challenging to pin a day down on the water together. Yesterday Jake, Andy, and I were able to take a ride down the river for a summer smallmouth session. It was a blast. If you feel like you might be missing out on something, it’s because you probably are. I’m not sure what a summer would be like without river smallmouth floats.

I grew up fishing the river for smallmouth bass with my family and friends. Yeah I know, a lot of people are claiming home water these days. But, I lost my first Mickey Mouse Shakespeare Spincast in the river when I was 3 years old. So there’s that, insert laughter.

Puttin’ in. My idea of a good morning.

Anyways, where I was going with that is I’ve spent a lot of time on the river fishing for smallmouth, but every time I step in the boat with Jake and Andy I learn a thing or two. Whether it’s something about fly design, fish behavior, or a technique, I think it speaks volumes about how dialed in their smallmouth program is on the water they fish.

As I always say, you are only as good as the company you keep. When anglers fish together, they have the opportunity to learn together. But only if they are willing. I love that the anglers I surround myself with are able to question each other, and bounce things off each other in a constructive way. Anglers learning together is one of the things I’ve always loved about fly fishing. Well that, and having one heck of a lot of fun while fishing.

Don’t know the answer, Boogle It.

Yesterday we caught bass a variety of ways, but I pretty much got glued on fishing poppers. It’s sort of like dry fly fishing for trout, except smallmouth don’t necessarily sip, they gulp. And then they bend an 8 weight in half like it’s their day job, because they are river smallmouth and that’s what they do.

From rain, the river has been pretty high so far this summer. Yesterday was the first I’d been out after smallmouth since early spring, and I was glad to spend the day with good buddies. As always, I’m looking forward to many more river days this summer.

If fly fishing for smallmouth is your thing, check out Jake’s website: Relentless Fly Fishing and blog: All Things Fly Fishing. There are years worth of great fly patterns, stories, and photos.

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Satisfying the Itch

You know how sometimes you suddenly get that itch where you feel the need to catch a fish? As most anglers would probably admit, I am guilty of having that itch almost all the time. Having been busier than ever guiding for trout this summer, I was not able to spend near as much time as I wanted on the Juniata River for smallmouth bass.

I’m by no means complaining because this summer presented some of the best summer trout fishing conditions I’ve ever experience. Cool temperatures and better than average flows kept the trout fishing very good all summer long, but that did not satisfy my itch for the smallmouth that I hold close to my heart. The same conditions that helped make the trout fishing so good this summer put the bass fishing on hold for the beginning of the summer. All the extra rain that make the small streams great to fish, kept the river high and off-color. This makes me feel a bit better about not having as much time as I’d like for smallmouth this summer.

Over the last 3 weeks, things slowed down enough for me that I was able to get out in the boat a few times each week. The smallmouth fishing has been on FIRE lately. Some of my fellow “river rats” have doing really well on poppers and boogle bugs as of recent. I like to fly fish for bass too, but my real passion is hitting the river with the spinning rods and soft plastics (I know, I’m setting myself up for hate mail by fishing the “dark arts”). Fish have been eating a variety of baits such as stick-o’s, hellgrammites, flukes, and tubes. That’s of no surprise because its hard to go wrong any time of year with that arsenal of baits. That being said, I have noticed the stick-o’s to be working more so than the rest, but that could be me tending to fish them more now that the water is low and clear.

I have got to spend a good number of days the past few weeks with Bryan on the boat with me. It seems I always catch the nice one’s when he is not around with his Nikon (stage freight I’ll call it). Anyways, I have to thank him for capturing these two images for me. The fall is one of my favorite times of the year to be out on the river for smallmouth. Get out there and take advantage of the September smallmouth fishing, we definitely will!