During my Oklahoma hog hunt this month I had my first opportunity to catch smallmouth bass on a fly rod. When I was a little girl I caught bass in the pond across the street from our house, but since picking up fly fishing I have mainly fished for trout. I tend to fish happily in my comfort zone in familiar waters and I enjoy the success that brings. However, I also love getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new … so I was very excited when I found out I would have the opportunity to fish for bass in Oklahoma during our hog hunt. After getting some advice on flies from my fiancé, Eric, who has fished for bass frequently while growing up in Wisconsin, I packed my gear and was on my way.
It was the second day of our hunt and we had some down time midday before we headed back to the stands so I asked the guides if I could go fishing. I was taken to a beautiful creek right by the first stand I had hunted. I was glad I had not been aware of the close proximity of this fishing hole to my stand because I would have happily gone fishing after my first hour of not spotting any pigs. Tracey, from Outdoor Connection, and her twin sister, Stacey, as well as one of the guides tagged along to watch me fish. None of them had watched anyone fly fish before and wanted to observe. Tracey was responsible for putting together this excellent ladies’ hog hunt. You can find Outdoor Connection online and they can assist you in booking your next hunting or fishing adventure.
I was a bit nervous about having an audience because I had never fly fished for bass and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. I rigged up with a black and chartreuse clouser minnow and began casting around the features in the large slow moving pool the guide had directed me to. Clouser minnows are a very versatile fly and can be effective catching many species of fish both in freshwater and saltwater. A clouser minnow is a type of streamer. Streamers are flies that represent minnows, leeches, frogs, etc. They are the fly equivalent of a lure. I love fishing streamers because it is so fun to see fish chase and grab streamers. Their presentation is more complex than just reeling them in and it took me a while to become proficient at fishing streamers. I generally don’t attempt fishing streamers with my clients that are just learning to fly fish because casting and presentation takes some coordination and practice.
It was a clear sunny day and the water was gin clear which makes fishing streamer more challenging. I have had the most success with streamers on overcast, windy, rainy days or days when the water clarity is poor. I fished the clouser minnow, just like I would any streamer while fishing for trout. I like to vary the speed at which I strip the streamer in and the length of the pause between strips when fishing for trout.
Some days, fish prefer a quick presentation and other days they prefer a slower presentation. The clouser is a heavy fly, so I couldn’t strip too slowly or I would have gotten hung up on the bottom of the creek. I had two bass turn-chase the minnow before everything came together and I hooked my first smallmouth. I love how aggressively smallmouth strike and how hard they fight. I was grateful to catch a fish within my first five minutes of fishing for a new species, especially since I had an audience. I caught two more fish and moved a handful more in the half hour or so I was fishing. I also fished a bass colored clouser and caught one fish on that fly. I am reluctant to give much advice on fishing for smallmouth bass on a fly rod since this was my first experience but here is the link to a great article on catching smallmouth using clouser minnows by Carl Haensel. Catching my first small mouth bass (and my second and third) was a great experience and I was happy to have some success as a sportswoman on this trip as I was the only lady to not see any hogs. However, the company was fantastic, the scenery was gorgeous, the guides were great, and the fishing was wonderful!
Tight lines and thanks for reading!
Katherine Grand pens "DamselFly Fisher" and works as Pro-Staff and Dealer Relations Coordinator at Prois Hunting and Field Apparel in Gunnison, Colo. She also guides in fly-fishing waters near Gunnison. View all posts by Katherine Grand
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