Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2 . Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3. Little Brown Stoneflies
4. Quill Gordons
5. Blue Quills
6. Little Black Caddis
9. Hendricksons and the Red Quills
Some Rambling Smallmouth Bass Tales and a New Version of the
Perfect Fly Brown Crayfish
Sometimes, I really can't see the trees for the forest. About three years ago, I came
up with a crayfish fly for smallmouth and largemouth bass but I obviously had a one
track mind regarding the fly's applications. There were two versions of the fly - what
we call the Brown Crayfish and the Brown and White Crayfish that we intended to
imitate crawfish with eggs.
Although our Brown and White Crayfish was tied with heavy dumbbell type weights,
our Brown Crayfish version was intended primarily for shallow water, mostly streams
rather than lakes. Recently, a customer from Virginia, and a regular smallmouth
bass angler, ask for our Brown version with added weight so that he could fish the
fly in 10-15 feet of water in lakes. I got them in this past Friday just in time for his trip
next week. Having fished for smallmouth (using regular tackle) throughout the
nation, from Canada to Pickwick and Wilson Lakes in northern Alabama, I was well
aware the fish were usually located anywhere from thirty feet deep to as shallow as
five or six feet. In clear lakes, the smallmouth spawn in water in the five foot depth
range. In water with a slight stain, they may spawn in water much shallower.
Upsetting My World Record Buddy
In the early 1980s, I caught a smallmouth from Wilson Lake (my largest ever) that
weighted 6 pounds, 10 ounces. I was sight casting to what I thought was a
largemouth bass bed and fishing an artificial worm. The smallmouth came from
water that was not over two feet deep.
At the time I was fishing with the man that held the IGFA 8 pound class world record
smallmouth. I remember his name as Mike Letchman, but I'm not sure I'm spelling it
correctly. He owned a cabin on the lake and fished it regularly. I was his guest that
particular weekend. I think his world record was just over 7 pounds, if I remember
correctly. He usually fished a spinnerbait at night, dropping it off ledges in ten to
twenty feet of water along some underwater islands. He raved on and on about me
using a worm for smallmouth, saying I was the luckiest guy to ever make a cast in
Lake Wilson. He just couldn't get over it. He was probably right.
Al and Ron Linder's "Throw Me Off" Advice
Another smallmouth fishing tale I have that didn't turn out well took place at the first
ever national BASS tournament on the St. Lawrence River in Thousand Islands New
York. No one knew what to expect of the new location. I was friends with Al and Ron
Linder, both of which fished the tournament. You probably know them from the
In-Fisherman Magazine and TV Show. This is a case of where expert knowledge
doesn't always turn out to be so great. I should have know that as well as anyone.
Visiting them one night during practice, both brothers very willingly gave me some
specific locations for smallmouth where they claimed I would have no problem
catching an easy limit. These fish were located in about thirty feet of water along the
main channel of the river. They were right. I was able to catch them in very high
numbers but none of them ran over a pound. It ended up being all I was able to find.
When the tournament started, I ran to the same spot and proceeded to land about
thirty fish none of which were over a pound. The limit was only 5 bass per day with a
12 inch minimum size limit. I don't remember my total weight that first day, but it
wasn't over six pounds. I ended up in about 200th place at the end of the first day.
The leaders were weighing in four and five pound largemouth bass that I didn't even
know existed in the river. Some guys had smallmouth weighing up to three pounds
but they came mostly from the Lake Ontario. I had to change strategies completely
and ended up struggling for the next two days. I got exactly what I deserved for
using information from others.
The Lost Smallmouth Bass Guide
Another story that comes to mind took place on the English River in Ontario in the
early 1970s. This was a remote float plane fly-in location about ninety miles north of
Kenora where there were not any roads. My wife and I had an Indian guide who
couldn't speak English. We fished for smallmouth bass and walleye. We caught the
walleye for lunch and smallmouth for fun - along with a million unwanted Northern
At the end of the first day, when we thought we were headed back to the camp, we
noticed the guide was running the boat much further than we had traveled during
our many stops. The river winds in and out of islands and lakes and we didn't have
a clue where we were short of the Canadian wilderness. Obviously, the guide didn't
either. When we attempted to ask him if we were lost, I guess he knew what we were
asking because of the looks on our faces. His answer was to just raise both arms
and hands and shake his head no. We were worried that we were going to spend
the night, which were very cold, along the bank somewhere. It was almost
completely dark when we arrived back at camp. There was no electricity. The camp
used a small gas generator to power the few lights. The boat was about a 16 foot
aluminum v-hull boat with a small outboard engine. The little gas tank didn't have a
cup of fuel left in it when we got back to camp.
One of my regrets was that I didn't ever go smallmouth bass fishing with the
smallmouth bass legend Billy Westmoreland. Billy, Dale Hollow Lake guide and
author of "Them Ol' Brown Fish" was a very good friend of mine and someone I got
to fish with several times, two days of which were in BASS tournament competition. I
also spent some time with him during practice at various locations.
He asked me several times to come up to Dale Hollow Lake and fish with him for
smallmouth bass, something he was very well know for. I was always excited about
doing that, but it turned out to be one of those things I put off too long. Billy passed
away in 1992, before I took that opportunity. He was one of the smartest anglers I
have ever fished with. He could find a bass in a mud puddle in a desert.
"Perfect Fly" Brown Crayfish:
This fly now comes with or without a heavy dumbbell type weight attached to
the tail in hook sizes 4 and 6. The weight is similar to that show below on the
Brown and White Crayfish. I haven't had time to list the weighted versions on
our site yet. You can call us on the 800 number or order the unweighted fly
online and note in the comment section of the order that you want it weighted.
"Perfect Fly" Brown and White Crayfish:
This fly is imitates crayfish with eggs. It comes with the dumbbell type weights
in size 4 only.
By the way, these flies are very tough. Here is the link to these flies. Those
are rabbit strips which are tough.
2011 James Marsh