A hunt for big bass sent me to a pond armed with an 8 wt., 4 i.p.s. (inches per second) sinking line, and a 4-ft. length of 16-lb. tippet, and our H.O.T. (acronym for “Hold On Tight”) Streamer in the sunfish pattern. Along the face of the dam I counted the fly down (using the one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, etc. method) to 8 feet of depth next to a thick weedbed of coontail and imparted a strong lift, drop, strip retrieve. The tail vibrations signaled the bass population that a wounded baitfish was in their territory and caused innumerable smashing hits followed by memorable battles. What a great way to spend a sticky evening!
Recent rain showers left our nearby stream stained, which raised concern that the fish would be unable to locate our flies visually. Our Ozark Woolly Bugger, with its bead head, was the logical choice for “rock-banging” presentations. It would enable smallmouths to utilize their lateral lines to locate our flies. Casts were delivered up-and-across the slow current above submerged rocks. A firm strip made the fly hit the rock which produced a clicking sound. Then a strong “mend” toward open water and stripped line caused the fly to dart away from its target. Many smallies of 9 to 13 inches fell for the tactic before sunset.
A falling barometer meant the pond’s microorganisms would be rising to the surface and that minnows and small baitfish would follow. In turn, the bass and bluegills would follow. A black sponge spider with red and black banded legs proved to be the magic bullet for both species. I cast them into weedline pockets from my float tube in the final two hours before dark and netted 31 fish including 12 largemouths to 17 inches. Barred owls serenaded my departure.
A day or two ago, the river I chose to fish was slightly off-color from recent rains, but that shouldn’t have caused an hour and a half of fruitless casting. Suddenly, the wind quickened and distant thunder announced a downpour. In 20 minutes the storm passed and I waded into a casting position upstream from the low water bridge. Like a switch had been flipped, fish began hitting aggressively. Smallmouth bass slammed streamers in the pool’s tailout and a variety of sunfish inhaled dry flies in the quiet water behind a log. An intense peach-colored sunset ended the evening. ‘Tis a pleasure to live in the Ozarks.”
A quick-hitting rain soaked me while float tubing a pond. The fish continued to hit size-12 black Bluegill Buggers as long as they were slowly retrieved near bottom. One bass of 12 inches and 20 bluegills to 9 inches were landed and released before sunset. The changeable weather seems to have caused the fish to hug the bottom at the bases of the weedlines. Strikes were difficult to detect as they ran toward the rod after hitting which led to too many missed hookups.