About the time those other fish start to show up I begin to look to other fishing opportunities until they leave. Instead of heading north to go chase Steelhead I decided to make a local trip for some Huron River smallmouth. A few years ago this wouldn’t have been an option but the DNR recently changed the rules to where bass are now open year round for catch and release. This presented an opportunity for the gang at Schultz’s Outfitter’s to start guiding trips in April instead off May. A quick phone call and I was all checked in for a Sunday morning (4/23) float.
My guide today was going to be the newest member to the Schultz team, Justin Pribnac. This is his inaugural season as a guide for the shop. He has been guiding for the last 10 years but the Huron was a new area to him. Seemed fitting as this was my first time targeting Smallmouth Bass with a fly rod. I have caught them before but it was always by accident. Now, I was going to be casting big streamers to likely holding spots from a drift boat. I’m sensing a lot of streamers in trees.
Once we got into the boat we started our drift downstream. This was my kind of fishing, I stand up front and cast while someone else rows. I have to hand it to Justin, he kept me in the zone all day and set the boat up so I could make easy casts. While I was casting he would give me tips on placement and how to get the fly to twitch just right. Since he knew I was a big fan of the two hand spey game he described the presentation in ways I could easily relate to. Since the river was flowing high, from all the recent rains, we concentrated our efforts on the “couch” areas. Places on the river downstream of logs and obstructions that formed slack water areas or pools. Since it was a bright sunny day we tried to focus on shady areas as best we could. This got to be harder and harder to do as the sun rose. By noon I was praying for any type of a cloud. It wasn’t gonna happen today. As the morning progressed I was able to move a few fish and I did catch one smaller bass on a white Game Changer. Not exactly what I was hoping for but it is to be expected on a bright day like this and early in the season. The bigger fish are on full alert and after being in the river for over 10+ years they are well educated.
We kept at it though and eventually we found an area that had a few willing fish. In about a 100 yard stretch I was able to catch two and had two long distance releases. I moved a couple as well which. It was still great to see the fish come from out of what seemed like nowhere to crush the streamer. This is one of the reasons why Smallmouth are such fun to catch on a fly rod, at any size. I can only imagine what a true trophy would feel like and someday I hopefully will. Today just wasn’t going to be that day. It happens though, that’s why I do this, for the challenge. If I wanted easy I would stick to pulling wire for walleye.
So that was my initial foray into the world of fly fishing for Small Jaws. I learned a lot and have a new found appreciation for someone who knows how to row a drift boat. Hat’s off to Justin who worked his butt off to keep the boat where it belonged and my casts in the zone. I will definitely be doing this again, I just hope it is on a cloudier day. Maybe I’ll try a PM float. After dark. When I am in my element. Muhahahahaha…….
Oh, one other thing. I didn’t lose a single fly today.