Signs of Summer: Hot Smallmouth Bite

Smallmouth Bass

Warm weather and wet wading are two big signs of summer’s arrival, but perhaps our favorite part of summer is the great fly fishing for smallmouth bass in our local rivers and streams. Over the last week I found myself on bass water a number of times and it felt pretty good.

It’s been a tough spring season on many of our rivers and streams, particularly the large ones because of high flows on the tailwaters. This trend is continuing into our smallmouth season but we’re finding some good places to fish. The problem is that right now you’re never really sure what conditions will be on any one river.

The Holston has been running pretty high for a while. Even when flows are ideal the water temperature is pretty cool for the fish to be very active. The French Broad below Douglas Dam has also been running high for a while with a few good breaks. The water isn’t so cold as on the Holston which makes this river a better pick.

Pigeon River Smallmouth Bass

Marty Lipke brought this nice smallie to the boat on a Black River Rabbit Streamer

The Pigeon River around Newport on up to Hartford is fishing very well, but as always you need to pay attention to flows. Fish in the Pigeon are always responsive to streamers when high flows are coming from the Waterville powerhouse, but a drift boat or raft is a necessity. The water is clearer with low flows and this is the time for wading. The fish are much more responsive to poppers at this time as well.

The freestone rivers and streams are really the best places for consistent activity. Little River and the Nolichucky along with all the streams on the Cumberland plateau have really come alive in the warm weather and the fish will certainly take poppers.