Fall Smallie Fishing

By: Levi Opsatnic

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Whenever it comes to fly fishing, I think that it’s safe to say most anglers gravitates towards the image of a trout. Whether it’s casting a dry fly in a tight, bushy stream to beautiful brookies barely larger than your hand or methodically presenting a large streamer to a brown trout that could swallow a songbird, there’s a good chance that one of these images is a common dream to most fly anglers. I’m the same way; it’s very hard to beat things like seeing a snout sip a dry off of the surface or the rolling flash of a lunker swiping your nymph. Even though those experiences are tough to beat, I like to think that this summer made me realize that the smallmouth bass is a wonderful substitute whenever things are just too hot for the salmonoids.

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This summer, I spent a ton of time on some of Pennsylvania’s larger waterways chasing these warm water savages. In that time, I found that a fish the size of your fist will probably fight better than your largest trout of the day, and it will surely smack a popper that’s as long as your index finger. This was more than enough to keep me from harassing trout during the hot summer months and it kept me on rivers like the Susquehanna, Allegheny, and Juniata well into September.

After taking a week or two off from smallie fishing, I noticed that there were still a few more warm, sunny days before things really began to get ugly. Seizing the opportunity before it was too late, I quickly packed my things and headed to the Juniata River on my first day off. Upon arrival, I noticed that the water was low and the wind was pretty fierce; however, it was pretty warm out so I quickly rigged up and began wading into a large pool. Twenty minutes or so goes by without as much as a snag, but then, my brother hooked up with the first bass of the day.  Beings slightly pessimistic about the previously chilly days, this was just the assurance that I needed.

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Slowly working our way downstream, it seemed almost as if every fish in the river was hungry for our flies. Fishing every pocket of water that was deeper than your shin with a Clouser Minnow seemed to be the ticket.

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We called it quits a little before dusk. With this possibly being my last smallmouth trip of the season, I can safely say that I was able to end it on a wonderful note. Though we didn’t get into any huge fish, we were able to bring quite a few healthy bronzebacks to hand.




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