Since both the number and size of the bass were better in 2010 than they have been in many years I fully expect the smallmouth fishing to be outstanding this year, especially on the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River.
I plan to start fishing for smallmouth bass in March this year and I’ll tell you on my weekly Bass Stream Fly Fishing Report what is happening. At this time the cold water and full streams prompt the use of a SA Mastery Sink Tip III Fly Line in order to get the flies down to the bass. These are ideal conditions to use our new Murray’s Magnum Streamers. These conditions can continue through April but by the middle of May the bass are awake and are feeding well. Many bass start feeding heavily on Hellgrammites in the riffles now throughout the day and on adult Brown Drake Mayflies and Olive Caddisflies at dusk.
From July until mid October the bass feed heavily throughout the rivers and you may choose the tactics and flies you like. I find that I catch my largest bass along the shaded banks and grass beds throughout the day and in the tail of the pools at dusk. My most dependable surface flies are the Shenandoah Blue Popper 6, Shenandoah Sunfish Slider 6, Murray’s Bass Cricket 8 and Murray’s Floating Chub Minnow 6. When I go underwater these flies seldom let me down: Shenk’s White Streamer 6, Murray’s Heavy Black Hellgrammite 6 and the Murray’s Magnum Streamer 4.
If you like fast dry fly fishing for smallmouth bass try to be on the river the last 3 weeks of September during the last 2 hours of daylight. The hexagenia mayflies, both duns and spinners are on the water and the fishing is fast and furious. One evening last September I counted 17 smallmouth bass rising to these adults in one measured minute. I put on a Mr. Rapidan Skater 8 and by going one on one with rising bass I caught dozens of nice bass. If you don’t hit a heavy hatch in the area you are fishing be willing to try another stretch of the river. The nymphs like a silty stream bottom.
In late October and November I revert back to the deep water tactics I mentioned for using in March. How late in the year do I fish for bass? I keep going until I get skunked twice.
Since I’m fortunate enough to fish often I can provide you information in 3 different ways that will let you know what’s happening so you can take advantage of this in your own fishing.
1. Each Friday I provide a brief stream report on both trout and smallmouth fishing on my website (www.murraysflyshop.com).
2. The first part of each month I provide a free email newsletter stating what I expect will be happening that month.
3. The Murray’s Fly Shop Angler’s Club provides a weekly newsletter to you from March to November on current fishing conditions. (Cost $50 for first time sign up then $15 yearly).
If you would like to attend one of our Smallmouth Bass “On The Stream Fly Fishing Schools” this year we will be offering six 2 day schools. Most of the time in these schools is spent on the stream where you will be fishing and working with our instructors to enhance your learning and experience. These fly fishing schools cover the fishing tactics for nymphs, streamers, top water, reading the water, equipment/ fly tackle selection and casting the fly rod.