The Best Time for Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing on the North or South Fork
Smallmouth bass feed the heaviest in low light levels. For my personal fishing this means the first two hours at dawn and the last two hours at dusk. Since I am in my fly shop until after 5 pm each day, I can easily grab my tackle. I can get to either the North or South Fork of the Shenandoah River for several hours of great fishing.
During these low light levels the bass often move to the areas that contain large populations of natural foods. Some of my most productive areas in the low light levels are the edges of the grassbeds where the water is two to three feet deep. Also in the tails of the pools. Also the two to three foot deep gravel bars where they taper off into the deep water.
For the last several weeks I have been catching many smallmouth bass along the shaded banks with the Shenandoah Blue Popper size 4.
If the water is three to five feet deep over cobblestone streambottoms many fish feed in these shaded areas.
I like to cast my Shenandoah Blue Popper within a foot of the banks. I even use a side-arm cast at times to shoot my Shenandoah Blue Popper back under overhanging tree limbs. Often I use a gentle upstream mend to help hold the Shenandoah Blue Popper close to the bank as the current pulls it downstream.
This tactic is so productive that I often spend several hours using it as long as the stream depth and shade hold up.
My most productive minnow imitation is the Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer size 4. For many years the bait fishermen have relied on the natural hog suckers to catch their largest bass. I fish these along the edge of the gravel bars where they drop into the deep part of the river at dusk. I catch many bass this way!
My most effective surface bug is the Shenandoah Blue Popper size 4. I rely strongly on this fly because it out-fishes other surface bugs by a great margin. I just do not like to change a winning game!
Many large smallmouth bass select their “primary feeding stations” according to the amount of natural food that is available. They also select it because of the low level of the natural light. This is why almost everyday during the summer, after I close my fly shop, I head to the Shenandoah River to fish the tail of a pool at dusk.
In reviewing my stream notes from last year, here are the five best early season smallmouth bass flies which were the most productive from March through June. Based on this success I plan to rely strongly on these for my early season smallmouth bass fishing this year.
Stream Thermometer- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
I use my stream thermometer every day when I am on a trout stream and a smallmouth bass river. This information gives me a more complete picture of why the fishing is as I find it that day. This helps me greatly on future fishing trips.
For example, if I get a reading of 36 degrees Fahrenheit on a mountain trout stream in the spring I know I will do best by fishing nymphs rather than drys . This is because the trout do not feed well at this low temperature. Then by August if I get a 68 degrees Fahrenheit reading on a mountain brook trout stream I know I am going to have to fish very carefully because this is approaching the upper range of the brook trout comfort zone.
Fly fishing essentials- must haves include a variety of gear, an extra fly box is an easy one.
For my trout fishing I carry the flies I need for each trip in one small fly box in my chest pack. When doing this on the Armstrong last year I lost my main fly box and had to fish with those flies that were on my dry fly patch. Ever since that day I have carry a second small fly box with a dozen emergency flies in my chest pack.
Murray’s Fly Shop
121 South Main Street
PO Box 156
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
I use Chest High Waders when I am fishing large trout streams and smallmouth bass rivers. I wear hippers when I am fishing mountain trout streams. If I walk into a mountain trout streams for two miles or less I wear my hippers to walk in. If I plan to walk in more than two miles, I hang my hippers over my shoulder and wear hiking shoes to walk in, then stick my shoes up on the bank and put my hippers on to fish. After I finish fishing, I put my hiking shoes back on and carry my hippers to walk back out of the mountain.
I never head into any stream without my Folstaf Wading Staff. Many anglers readily see the safety advantages of using a Wading Staff when fishing deep water. However, if you do slip and fall into water which is waist deep you get wet. But remember if you fall down in water which is ankle deep, you can easily break bones. I have tested many different styles of wading staffs, but I like my Folstaff Wading Staff best of all because it is very durable and dependable.
Each year I get asked, “What kind of fly fishing can I expect for November and December in Virginia?’
November and December provide outstanding fly fishing for large trout and smallmouth bass. However, the cooling streams and the natural foods change the feeding habits of the fish and we get our best results by adjusting our fly selections and angling tactics accordingly.
In order for you to get good fishing I will break down my three favorite forms of angling at this time of the year. First we’ll look at my favorite Pennsylvania fishing, then we’ll discuss Virginia’s Delayed Harvest Streams and large stocked trout streams and finally I’ll cover the smallmouth fishing.
Don’t forget I will be holding fly fishing workshops on Saturdays in my fly shop from 10a.m. to noon. I cover many topics including fly tying, fly casting, trout fishing, bass fishing and selecting the proper fly rods. To see the schedule and to sign up…visit our website.
The second portion of this fly fishing podcast, Harry goes into detail on where to catch large bass in November, the areas the bass are holding in, and the best tactics. He also explains why he uses a Sinking Line with Fluorocarbon 6ft Leaders.
In this fly fishing newsletter I want to discuss the little olives and the best techniques to catch the large bass.
Trout Fishing– Vince Marinaro looked me straight in the eyes and exclaimed, “Don’t overlook the little olives, just never overlook the little olives”. He was referring to the multi-brooded beatis and pseudocleon mayfly hatches that can be outstanding in November.
Bass Fishing–For the last several years I’ve been able to fish for smallmouth bass well into November with good success. My success comes by fishing the deepest pools with a fast sinking head fly line which enables me to swim large streamers slowly along the stream bottom.
To read my entire fly fishing newsletter for November, click here.
In my Fly Casting and Rigging Tackle Classes and in my “On The Stream Fly Fishing Schools”, I find that most beginning anglers are more interested in learning to cast far than they are to cast well.
Long casts are great when you need them, but for most trout anglers accuracy and delicacy in fly placement are the main goals which spell success on the stream. When I show my students my “flip cast” and my “pendulum cast”, they are astounded with the accuracy in fly placement they can achieve. The ultimate reward which thrills them is the great number of wary trout they catch in this way.
Murray’s Fly Shop
121 South Main Street
PO Box 156
Edinburg, Virginia 22824