Smallmouth Bite Continues in the Streams

It’s starting to feel like fall around Townsend. There’s a slight chill in the air every morning and the days aren’t nearly so hot. Even though it’s still August we can tell that autumn is coming. Trout fishing will certainly improve as it always does, but right now we’re trying to stay on the smallies while the bite is still good.

Jim Andress and a Smokies Smallmouth Bass

Jim Andress shows off a nice stream smallmouth that inhaled a small popping bug

Fishing with poppers is still excellent on our local streams. In fact, since water levels are at their typically lowest levels of the year, popping bugs and other surface patterns are the best way to hook a smallie. Streamers will snag up in shallow water and right now some of the best places to find feeding bass is in water two feet deep or less.

Smallmouth Bass with popping bug

This nice bass actually made a wake as it charged the popping bug in less than 12″ of water.

We’re focusing on smaller bugs around a size #8, although a #6 or even #4 can do well. The key is not to over work the popper. Pops shouldn’t be violent, but that’s not the most important part about working the bug. You shouldn’t need more than two pops over a long drift, even less in a shorter drift.

Sometimes bass will approach slowly or pause to look at the fly before eating. Extra pops usually put fish off and do more harm than good. It’s not unusual for a fish to approach or even strike at the fly just based on the noise it made when it fell to the water.

You can twitch the popper if a fish is inspecting it, but don’t pop it if the fish is nearby. Only pop the fly if the fish turns away from the fly. An easy pop will often cause a fish to turn around and inhale the fly.

This is some of the most exciting and rewarding fly fishing you can do and this is a prime time to get out and try it.
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  1. Love your articles on small stream fishing. I’m new to WNC, and they have really improved my learning curve! Would love to know some good spots for smallie fly fishing within 50-60 miles of Asheville. Any suggestions?


    • Great to hear we can help! We’re not as familiar with every piece of smallmouth water around Asheville as we are in East Tennessee, but you do have some great options. The French Broad is very good and provides you tons of places to cast a fly for bass. The upper Pigeon River isn’t very far from you either. You should also investigate possibilities on the Little Tennessee and Tuckaseegee Rivers. The Nolichucky isn’t far from Asheville and is pretty hard to beat. Good Luck!