Flyfishing and Catching Large Bass in the Ledge Pockets. Many large bass move into the deep water as the rivers cool. Earlier we discussed how to catch them in the large deep pools while flyfishing. Today we’ll look at a different type water that attracts the bass and how to catch them.
Some large smallmouth rivers have limestone ledges that extend all the way across the river forming small natural dams. They may come within two feet or two inches of the surface of the river and they may be within a hundred to two hundred feet of each other crossing the river. The water between these ledges can range from three to six feet deep. Those with water five to six feet deep hold many large bass as the river cools.
This provides some of my favorite and most productive fishing of the year. First I wade in below the ledge and fish a Murray’s Cream Strymph 4 upstream of the ledge. By fanning my casts upstream and using a line hand retrieve to swim my Strymph back downstream slightly faster than the current I cover all of the reach from my first location. Then I wade across the river below the ledge, pausing at 20 feet intervals to repeat this method all the way across the river. After covering the full width of the river I wade upstream along the side of the river and continue this method all the way upstream to the next ledge.
A line hand retrieve is a valuable skill to master. From ponds and lakes to heavy river streamer runs there are times when a slow fly action is preferred. With the cold water temperatures found many places in the winter months, this is how I start off streamer fishing.
Previously we discussed how to fish deeply with a floating line using streamers with a “sweeping a streamer” technique. This is very effective in pools out to about 30 feet. However, today let’s look at the method I use when I want to fish my streamers further out in large streams for the large trout at this time of the year.
In order to cover the deep water in the whole pool effectively I use a Teeny 200 fly line in which the first 24 feet of the line sinks quickly at 5.5 inches per second. My favorite tactic with this line is to wade into the stream just below the riffle and make a 30 foot cast across stream. After my streamer sinks deeply I swim it back across the stream bottom by stripping it six inches every ten seconds. Successive casts are made ten feet longer until I’m casting as far as comfortable. Then I wade down the side of the pool pausing every ten feet to repeat the same tactics. Often I’ll cover the whole pool this way until I start hanging up in the tail of the pool. Very effective streamers for large trout with this method are the Shenk’s Sculpin size 6 and 8 and Murray’s Black Madtom Sculpin size 6 and 8.