Despite the weird weather of late (it snowed this morning, the first time it has ever snowed in Arkansas in May), the White Bass fishing has been really good this year.
In between Cub Scouts, camping, and now baseball, we’ve gotten out a few times to chase whities. Daniel caught his first white bass which was also his first fish on the fly. He’s caught a few now, and he seems hooked on flyfishing. He definitely needs to work on his casting (I’m going to get him some casting lessons from someone other than me), but he’s coming along.
He caught that one on a chartrueuse over yellow clouser. He was using his Ross 7’11” 6 weight FlyStik that he got for his birthday this year. It has a Ross FlyStart reel, and the line is a Rio Smallmouth Bass taper WF6F. That line is similar to Rio’s Clouser taper line (which is the floating line I fish on my Scott A3 906), with maybe a slightly less agressive taper. It’s definitely a WARMwater line, though, because it stays coiled pretty hard in the cold spring water. Should perform better as the water warms. I’m looking forward to trying it on my Scott A3 906.
Usually by the end of March we have White Bass starting their spawning run up out of Beaver Lake into the tributaries. However, this year we’ve had unseasonably cold weather (including some non-accumulating snow twice in the last week!), and the water temps have stayed below the 56F magical point that sends them upstream. But, that delay gives me time to work on stocking the white bass box, something that’s been delayed by illness this year.
The White Bass box is a pretty simple affair. It contains some Whitlock’s NearNuff Crayfish for early in the run, then mostly Clousers after that. I usually tie in them in chartreuse/white, olive/white, olive/yellow, and all white. I tie them on Size 4 Mustad 3366 hooks, which really gives me more like a size 6 fly. I use the small or xtra small lead eyes, mostly in red and yellow.
This year, I’ve added a sort of turquoise/white recommended by Brock at McLellan’s Fly Shop. I’m also using some whitish eyes with them. Can’t remembe what brand/style the eyes are. We’ll see how those work this year. I’ve got at least a week before things warm up even close to enough. Will be tying every evening, I imagine.
This year will be the first time The Boy has been flyfishing, and he’s been working on his Chuck ‘n’ Duck casting with Clousers. I really hope I can get him into some White Bass this Spring.
When I first started chasing smallmouth with my flyrod, my bible was Harry Murray’s Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass, which sadly seems to be out of print (though easily available used through Amazon.com). Murray has a more recent condensed and updated book about flyfishing for smallmouth, but it’s not the same book. It has more recent fly patterns and color photos, but lacks the depth and cool Dave Whitlock illustrations of the first book.
The book is really chock full of advice on fishing for smallmouth in streams and rivers while wading. He breaks down the parts of a stream, and walks you through fishing the different parts.
It’s also full of great fly patterns that I first found here: Murray’s Strymph, James Wood Bucktail, Silver Outcast (my go-to shallow minnow pattern), Murray’s Hellgrammite, and more. I’ll be tying and writing about some of these patterns in the coming weeks.
Absolutely nothing beats spending time outside with your kids. Today, I took The Boy up to Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Missouri, for his first flyfishing live-fire exercise. He’s really enjoyed fishing the last few times we’ve gone, and I haven’t pushed the flyfishing on him at all. Rather, I’ve let him come to it on his own terms after fishing with a spincast rig for the last couple of years. But, he’s been practicing in the yard with his yarn-equipped practice rod for the last couple of months. He did pretty well today. Papa was proud. He needs to work on not dropping his backcast (don’t we all?), but overall, he did well, and he put the fly more or less where he intended most of the time. Plus, we got to see some great negative examples of how (not to) cast.
Roaring River is pretty easy to fish. It’s sorta like fishing in a parking lot. Was pretty windy today, and that resulted in some weird drifts. No fish were caught, but he still declared it his “best fishing experience ever!” So, that was good.
We also took time to poke around in the water (and look up occasionally — and we saw four bald eagles today), where we saw this big crayfish that was missing one of his claws. He was actively crawling around in a slow pool that also had quite a few sculpin in it. The trout seemed uninterested. Hell, the rubber stocker trout in there (RR has one of Missouri’s rainbow trout hatcheries) might not even know that crayfish and sculpin are food, they’re so used to Trout Chow pellets.
It was a great day, and I was thrilled that he had a great time, even if no fish were molested. It was a nice warm day for January (high was about 60F), and it was great to be outside with my son. I’m looking forward to many more days on the water with him.
I haven’t tied flies seriously in, well, longer than I’d like to think. Six years? Nine years? A long damned time in any event. But, now that I’m getting back into flyfishing, I’ve discovered that my flyboxes are inadequately filled. They are dangerously low, especially the trout box, but the white bass, smallmouth, lake/pond largemouth, and panfish boxes are slim, too. So, it’s time to start reloading them over the winter.
I’ve discovered that my eyes aren’t what they used to be. So, I wear “cheaters” (drugstore reading glasses) over my own glasses. I need to tie bigger flies, maybe.
So, tonight I started with three Red Fox Squirrel Nymphs, one of my favorite Dave Whitlock patterns. I love a LOT of his patterns, and you’ll see a lot of them on this blog in the future. But, I need some crossover panfish/trout nymphs, and I’ve always like the RFSN in all it’s permutations. These are simple unweighted nymphs. The only bit of fancy is I tied them on TMC 600R curved nymph hooks. I just like the look of nymphs tied on that hook.