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Al Agnew

Last of the summer

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I'll be heading back to Montana for a few weeks this weekend, and by the time I get back to Missouri the stream bass will be out of their summer patterns and into early to mid-autumn mode.  So I knew yesterday would be my last summer smallmouth fishing for 2019.  Mary said she'd be happy to shuttle me on one of my favorite Big River floats.  So the night before, I loaded up the solo canoe and gear so that I would be ready to go as soon as I got out of bed.  I play basketball with some guys from 6 to 7 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the gym is on the way to the river, so I set the alarm for 5:15 so that I could play before heading to the put-in.

It's a long float, longer even than I like to do, but there just aren't any good intermediate accesses.  So I didn't even bring a rod for fishing the slow on the bottom stuff, just four rods for fishing my favorite fast-moving lures as I drifted.  I also brought a take-apart kayak paddle to power my way through some of the long, dead pools, or in case I was running late for the 6 PM rendezvous with Mary.

The trip started out frustrating.  The first fish came on my homemade crankbait in the first pool, and it was a nice 14 inch smallmouth.  But then I went through a period of getting strike after strike and not getting any of them to the canoe, and some were good fish.  This same thing would happen a lot on this day...I lost a lot of pretty decent fish, and one real monster largemouth.  But I also started catching a lot of fish, with enough good ones to keep me happy.

I started out with a walk the dog topwater (naturally) on one rod, a Whopper Plopper on another rod because I'd had such good luck with it on the last trip, down on the Kings River, my homemade shallow running crankbait, and my homemade twin spin.  But oddly, I've not had good luck on the twin spin all year, and the last couple years a double willow leaf regular spinnerbait has been good to me, so I soon changed to the regular spinnerbait.  It turned out to be the best lure for the day.

I didn't see any really big smallmouth.  I caught two big largemouth, though, a 19 and a 19.5 incher.  A bunch of 12-14 inch spotted bass, and enough over 12 inch smallmouth.  My biggest smallmouth was a 17 incher.  Total number of bass was an even 100, with 49 smallmouth, 42 spotted bass, and 9 largemouth.

There was a distinct pattern...the fish were all hanging tight to the banks in water with some current and depth.  The slower middle of the pools seemed devoid of fish.  Most of the fish seemed aggressive, often hitting the lure as soon as it hit the water.  I caught fish on everything I tried.  It was just a good day of steady fishing with decent quality and plenty of numbers.  Now it's off to Montana and my other angling identity, fly fisherman for Yellowstone River trout.

 

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