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Columbia Smallmouth

1585 Views 16 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Joseph Freeman
My buddy is a gear guy and a master bass fisherman and keeps asking me to come fish the columbia for smallies. I am going next week with him and I plan on using fly rod. I know to use minnows and crawfish and woolly buggers and maybe some poppers. Does anyone have any advice as far as stripping patterns, sink tips yes or no, leader lengths. Esentially any knowledge other than the fly. It would be greatly appreciated.:ray1:
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um, figure out where the fish are and what they are eating, then rig to match that...

if they are 15 feet under, use a sinking line, if they are feeding on the surface fish a floater.
Mimic what your buddy does, using the appropriate fly/tip/leader.
he said his buddy is a gear guy.

bring all you can sinking and floating lines if you have sperate spools or reels. poppers wont do much if you in a very heavy current if you find a break in the water here in indiana the smallies love and i mean love crawfish apterns if you can get them deep enough.
Probably going to need at least a clear intermediate sinking line and a sinking line (or pretty heavy sink tip). Depends on where on the Columbia you are, but my buddy just fished it last weekend and the water temps are pretty low and the water this time of year can be kinda fast moving. I would guess that you will have to go low and slow to get them, because they probably won't be moving to far to chase flies...unless you get a warm sunny day and find some frisky ones in the afternoon.

Don't waste time with poppers except for early morning or at dusk...not this time of year. Hasn't really been that warm over there. Minnow/crawfish stuff should work pretty well...but make sure to cast it out there and really work it slowly on the bottom. Look for your line to go tight, you may not feel all the takes (they like to pick it up off the bottom as well as hit it on the drop). Colors - white/black/orange/purple/chartruese/brown. Best advice is see what color your buddy throwing gear is getting them on, and go with that. If you tie, there are tons of good patterns you can crank out...anything with a large tungsten bead and a jig hook can be filthy on smallies.
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use something black & silver that resembles a smolt . . . works for me & I'm a dry line kinda guy. Fish the shallows.
It was 42.5 degrees off the main channel in very shallow water Sunday morning. River was low and slow where I was. 3 people and one caught in 20>30 minutes. On the bottom...moving very slow with long pauses, retrieves of each cast took minutes... it was 4 lb + fish. Columbia is going to start fishing well any minute with the weather we have coming up!

_pimp is on the money
White Zonker fished slow is where I would start.

What section of the Columbia?
I'm a contrarian kind of guy with spring smallies. While the obvious answer is to fish low, slow and use something that mimics foods, my gear-fishing experience tells me different.

Smallies at this time of year are starting to feed and move toward spawning shallows. A smallish crankbait at this time of year is deadly--much better than what most bass fishermen will use. If I were heading to the Columbia now with a fly rod, I'd use a full sink line (but carry the full arsenal as you'll be fishing different water during the day) that I could cast a mile and some fairly bright flies--like silver flash flies, zonkers in bright and dark colors and Clousers in several different colors, including pink and yellow. Then I would fish with a relatively fast strip--say a quick six-inch strip alternating with something slower and pausing between strips. Despite the water temps, smallmouth are feeding, and they are not shy about doing so. I've caught them using small crankbaits on a medium fast retrieve in water that was 37 degrees...a buddy in Tennessee has taken fish in 40 degree water using the same method. It does work, but it takes some confidence to use it because it is so counter-intuitive...
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I like the white Zonker with an eratic but slow rerieve. Strip-Sit-Twitch-Sit...repeat.

I concur about the crankbaits fished in cold water. I always hear grubs and tubes slow and low in the colder water but have commited myself to fishing "suspending slashbaits" because you can rip it, sit it, and tritch it. I fished one below McNary last week on a cold windy day just fine. It was fun to let the little thing sit still and watch the line laying in the water rip sideways a foot or two. Landed landed a couple of pigs but missed a few more for sure. Both the fish I landed were bigger than the two my buddy caught on his watermelon tube. Anyway I had alot of fun and was amazed by the X-Rap shad I was using.

Have fun.
Thanks everyone for the advice. What I have kind of come up with from your blogs is multiple different ways to strip can work and pauses are good. Bright, flash, black and minnow like bugs w/heavy sink tip and something floating for morning and night if I want to go for the popper top water thing. I will try it all and let you know how I do. Thanks again
I did this with a gear buddy for a few years. In practice, it mostly doesn't work. Wind, boat placement, depth and conspire to make it very hard to fly fish. If you set up for flies, you pass over a lot of very good gear water. Think seriously about using gear. The stuff used is light and sporty. You will get a lot more fishing and catching.

I did have some good periods but not that many.

I don't generally target smallies but I have had some success. Try a bright colored Slider. It's basically just a popper tied backwards. You'll know if it is going to work or not in just a few casts so you won't be wasting much time if it doesn't. However, if it does it's game on! I once out fished 3 other gear guys in the same boat with me along with catching the two biggest (21" &22"). I know that's on the bigger side, but it was a private lake. They took me back to shore. Said that my backcast was getting in their way. I was at the end of the boat, over the motor, and I'm right handed. It was his boat. How convenient. It really sucked from shore.

I don't know if that helps, I just like telling that story. Usually gear guys out fish fly guys for bass 10 to 1. But hey, every dog has his day. Hopefully you'll have yours. Have fun and let us know how you did!
I'm to the point in my life when to bass fish, heck I'll toss a spinning rod or baitcaster, and fly fish when they are really whacking poppers on top. It's a lot of work hucking and ducking big sink tips for bass with streamer patterns, when the fish are deep. If you have the gear, use the rod that will get you the most fish. I can understand if you are a true blue fly fishing only kind of guy, than yeah use the fly rod, but if you don't mind mixing it up, then have at it with varous set ups. It's brought me a great deal of peace. I say peace beause I've just accepted that I love to fish, with whatever, for whatever, whenever. It's been a personal awakening. Buying a bass boat has been the funnest thing I've done, fishing wise. Thought I'd share; don't know why, but enjoy.
Thanks David and Jerry but I do the fly thing only. When I started steelheading there was never a thought in my mind that I would get as many fish as the gear guys. Now I get more fish on the swing than any of my gear buddies with exception of Tom Harper and that dahm pink worm. I owe it to the guys that projected there knowledge and showed me great waters and also constent pursistence. I love the every dog has it's day story that's great. My bass buddie is a gear guy and he told me that if a bass see's it and wants it thats all it takes and depth is not a huge issue just bright and flashy to catch there eye. I have written down all the advice I have been given so I don't forget on the water. I am open for more there is endless paper and pencil hahahaha. :thumb:
idk whats the weather been like but when they get to right before the spawn throw flys out 3-4 time in the same area it makes them mad even if they arent hungry and they will strike! work all the time for largemouth haven't used they technique on smallmouth though. but its a killer.
Brett, I have never fished for smallies in the columbia, but have caught plenty of em in Arkansas and Tennesse, when the water is deep and moving a clouser minnow (barbell eyes) Olive or Black over white, with a bit of flashabou in the middle swung on a sink tip at the tailout of a pool has always worked for me, But my best fish has come on a little (size 8) all black soft hackle jiggy thing, 100/th oz. deaddrifted under a smallthingambobber in a shoulder deep tailout. (you gettin the tailout thing?) By the way my best smallie was a 24 incher!
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