: Spring Smallmouth Bass in New England
One of the least known flyfishing opportunities is smallmouth bass fishing in spring in NH and Maine. The largemouth bass crowd have caught on, even Jimmy Houston has kissed a few of those NH bronzebacks on TV recently. Aside from the mechanized bass boats and plug flippin' approach, this fishery is ideal for flyfishing.
Right around Memorial Day, give or take 10 days, all adult smallmouth come from the deep dropoffs to gather for the spawn. We have found them cruising the shoreline in pre-spawn; gathered in great schools in pre-spawn antics, or on the redds. My preference is to find them in pre-spawn, but having fished them off the redds I am convinced it does no harm to the fish. There are no hordes of panfish waiting to cannibalize the eggs if the adult is hooked, and the fish can be seen to swim directly back to the nest when released. (This is a C&R fishery). In fact, the same fish can be seen sitting on the nest during the whole trip. We don't try to catch them twice, although I have done it as a young kid it is unsporting as an adult.
The best time is the pre-spawn, when they can be gathered in large groups at key locations like holes adjacent to gravel spawning shoals, or rocky formations on the edges of good spawn structure. At this time, you can enjoy the hot action without concern for nesting disruption, although I have witnessed that even fishing them off the redds is of minimal consequence if properly released.
This is a true world-class fishery, and I highly recommend it for those who reside in New England. Lake Winnepesaukee, Squam Lakes, Ossipee, are fabulous lakes for this kind of fishing - just to name a few. Other opportunities are plentiful around NH, Maine and parts of Vermont.
It's possible that we would have a bronzeback clave this spring.
01-18-2000, 12:11 PM
Interesting. I rented a camp in Maine last July 4th on Highland lake in Bridgeton. There were some nice Smallys in there. I caught a couple on a light spin tackle digression (largemouth fishing) and returned them gently. I am going to a similar lake this summer in Bridgeton in early Aug this year. Hope to do it with flies this year. Any suggestions for patterns?
While out last summer at dawn in the canoe, I noticed a few schooled up bunchs of Smallmouths with there dorsal fins above water.
I paddled right through some of these schools. They were all about 5 inchs long. Any ideas what they were doing? I evan casted into one with my Wooly and landed a couple.
Juro and Terry,
I used to do some crappie and largemouth fishing in my teens and early twenties, however, I have focused recent energy on trout and striped bass - but I have made it a goal this year of trying to get back into warmwater fishing.
I live out by the Quabbin and have only fished it once a few years ago (lots of crappie caught - only one smallie), but it a wonderful and close resource for a lot of the people that visit these boards. Especially wonderful for those of us without a boat, as they rent them at a couple of the entrances for ~$30/day including gas.
I've done some snorkeling up in Winapausaukee and in central MA and it seems as if the smallmouths like crayfish. The gobble them up greedily, so much so, that you can hand feed them. Leading me to think that a sink tip line with a crayfish pattern would work pretty well. Drab colors like brown or olive would probably do the trick.
There are soooooo many little ponds and lakes that contain wonderful bass fishing, compared to a handful of good trout streams that I visit. My buddy claims that the Connecticut River up by the border of Vermont/NH/MA is a great place to float the canoe while fishing for smallies. It certainly would be easier to get the fishing "jones" in on a local pond than travelling over to the coast (1.75-2.5 hrs away). Plus, all I need is my float tube or the canoe, some large nymphs and crayfish and the 7wt. Might also want to have a floating line for some popper action, as topwater action for me is like dry fly fishing for trout -- very exciting to see the strikes.
Nice topic - sometimes I forget what great opportunities there are out there (literally down the street) and lament the fact I'm not living closer to the coast, or in the west, etc.
01-19-2000, 02:18 PM
If you have read John Gierach, you know how fond of Bass fishing he is with the fly. Funny thing is, these writers love to have a bluegill/panfish fry afterward. Anyone eat Bass/Panfish/Crappie etc? Do you batter them and fry them?
How is it?
I also agree with the point that there are (here in Ma. anyways) many more warmwater fishing opportunities than coldwater. I was in a canoe last summer when a friend of mine landed a 7 lb Largemouth. No stretching that one. Big!
He's still out there too, in a pond not far from Walden that also holds Northerns! Let's go, meet me with the canoe in about14 weeks, oh ya, life jackets required in MA. early season.
I believe it, I grew up in Sudbury and there is a a potential Superfund site over that way that has pretty darn good fishing for largemouth and crappie. If you find crappie from a relatively clean site you can indeed fillet them and they do taste good. You'll need a few of them as the small ones only yield potato chip sized fillets. My favorite though is yellow perch - now they are tasty. If your cholestorol budget can handle it I'd dredge them in seasoned flour and fry them in a cast iron pan in some bacon grease, but as you are a retired chef I will defer to your own ideas. Best served with a chilled adult beverage http://126.96.36.199/images/flytalk/Happy.gif, but to each his own.
Warmwater is only preceded by SWFF and my family as things near & dear to my heart.
Living on the south shore of Boston, I started fly rodding at 18 for trout and smallmouth on our numerous ponds. A great way to spend the day and how I've been planning to introduce my oldest daughter (4) this year.
I'd be up for a clave, I might even have a buddy with a place in NH, on a small lake, with facilities, where we could all tent up & use as a base of operations.
01-31-2000, 06:50 PM
We had a ball with smallmouths up on the Kennebec above where they pulled the Edwards dam out this summer. We canoed down from waterville and hit them along the whole way.My 5 year old was in my brothers canoe he decided to let him try his fly rod it was funny as hell. My sons thrashing away and my brothers ducking and weaving like a prize fighter. He finally convinced him that a spinning rod was a better set up for the canoe and put on a tiny zara spook. We had a blast watching them come up and knock the plug around. We used do pretty good down at spectacle pond in sandwich although I haven't been there in years.