Thursday, May 13, 2010

WNY Spring Smallmouth

For the past few years now I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to fish all kinds of great water during late April and early May. It is the time when I make the switch from steelhead mode to small stream mode, and on occasion bass mode. And if I where to be completely honest, it is a hard switch to make. Very hard! But the pull of getting my first trout on a dry fly, usually wins out in the end.
This spring has proven to be very kind to me so far. I have had the pleasure of fishing the hendrickson hatch and spinner fall a number of times with some friends, and even caught some nice fish for the stream we were fishing in. But great stream conditions and warm weather only lasts so long in WNY, especially in spring! A cold front, wind, or both, can put off a spinner fall or delay a hatch for a long time. And when you have a limited time to get a fly to fish, you have to have a second option up your sleeve. This is when I break out the bass flies and head to some water that is close to home in pursuit of some bronze backs.
There are two spots that I spend most of my time fishing at, the Erie canal and Black creek. Both have great fishing all throughout the summer, but spring is when it is easier to get into some of the bigger fish during the day. Plus there is always the added bonus of catching other warm water species such as carp, rock, bass, walleye, pike, crappie, and sunfish.
Being successful on these waters in the spring means slowing down your presentation. Dragging or jigging the fly along the bottom, and letting it bang off rocks and submerged logs is the best method. The fish almost always take the fly on the drop, and when you go to pick up the fly again, and you feel tension on the line(like you may be snagged on the bottom,) set the hook! More often than not it's a fish. Sometimes they put on a great aerial display and sometimes they stay down near the rocks. Either way, they pull hard!
Flies like the clouser minnow in chartreuse and white #2, woolly buggers in white and olive or brown #4-#8, and large cone head rabbit strip streamers in white and white/chartreuse #4-#6, are my go to flies. I fish them mostly on a WFF line and on occasion a 5' sink tip. If the water is high, I will sometimes add a split shot about a foot above they fly to get it deep fast and keep it there. A 7 or 8 weight rod is probably the perfect choice, but I prefer a 6 weight. I know it's a bit light, but it's way more fun!!!!!