The 2020 Starter for Smallmouth

If you are like me…the Covid-19 season is dragging on and on; I am all for safety and practicing social distancing…but truly I am wired to be out and on the go. The past 4-5 weeks I have taught from my home, something I hadn’t really ever done in the previous 35 school years. Let’s just say that I am not a huge fan…but I will roll with the punches and do what needs to be done. All this said, when the sun is shining, birds are chirping…and smallmouth bass are biting, well, off to the stream I shall go!

Mid-April is a good starting point. Heck, we have to ‘try the waters’ at some point…might as well be now. I told myself to not expect big things. The sun might be out but it is still early and the water temps are still low. My wife dumped me off at one entry point and I told her I would cover the three miles or so downstream in just over two hours. I hooked up my 6 weight rod with sink tip one line…threw on a while streamer, that while beat up, still looked like it had some life left…and off I went!

Just being out does great things for my soul. To catch fish…that is for sure a plus. I hadn’t gone too far and was drifting my fly down through a slot of deeper water when I saw a flash. Hit the GoPro button and made one more cast…bang, I was on and the 2020 smallmouth season was a go. It was a very nice fish, 15 inches or so and a deep yellow color to match the surrounding sand. The ‘skunk’ was officially off of the New Year!

As I worked my way downstream, memories came flooding back to me…since I had caught my last smallie this past September, I had broken my leg, both bones. At the time (October) I didn’t know how long it would take for me to be back up and moving around; here I was, less than six months and everything felt excellent…always a good thing.

From hole to hole I had high expectations as the water looked ‘juicy’, ripe, ready for smallies…but each time my hand would touch the water I was once again reminded that it was early and the water was indeed cold. I made a long cast across stream to my right and the fly stalled; without thinking I strip set and my second fish of the year was pulling me downstream. It is funny how well your senses can be trained, I find the same thing when I am swinging my shotgun on a gaudy rooster; usually the bird is tumbling downward and honestly my mind and reflexes have done all the work.

As I rounded the last bend I could see my take out point, the bridge that Vickie would be waiting at…I made a cast towards the cover and into the shade, when I felt the tug of a fish and once again instincts took over as I strip set and peeled in my 3rd fish. Two casts later and just a few feet from the last….my final fish of the day made a flash out from his lair and engulfed my white baitfish pattern. It had been two hours on the nose…the fishing was good, but nature was even better. There couldn’t be a better way to practice social-distancing; me, a few smallmouth, cool water and nary another soul in sight. If you get a chance…do your part and get out there and practice your own disease control; use your fly rod and feet…oh, and have an awesome 2020!


    • Thomas Bouldin
    • April 29, 2020

    Great write up and video Jeff! Crazy to hear you broke your leg. I deeply miss the Midwest and often times reflect on our two fishing expeditions. Memories that will be with my for a very long time. Hopefully this COVID thing can roll through as I fully plan on making it back to the Midwest in July to fish with my friend in Crawfordsville on Sugar Creek. Until then, California Trout will have to do.

    • jeff
    • April 29, 2020

    The broken leg thing was something I don’t plan on doing again….good to hear from you and hope you can make it back to the Hoosier state for some fishing. Please stay in touch….

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