Friday, July 6, 2012

Smallmouth Bass Salmon River

We fished by 5:30 p.m., quitting at 9:15. I got word in Pulaski before we got our sneakers wet that smallmouth bass fishing on the Salmon River is relatively slow. The stories I have heard over the past few years amazed me, but I had a feeling we wouldn't have 100 bass-a-day action.

We got two good-size bass and a few others over 12 and 14 inches. I caught eight, Matt three, but he had butterfingers, having taken as many hits as I did.

He caught a bass on his first cast with a Storm Hot 'n Tot crankbait. Plenty of light yet on the water, the silver sides reflected great flashes, and my silver Rat-L-Trap did much the same. I had one hit on the plug, having waded upstream along the stretch a couple hundred yards before I switched to a five-inch Senko-type (Strike King) worm rigged wacky. I chose crayfish brown and stuck to this. I missed a couple of light takes that later I felt sure were rock bass, since I caught a couple of these over the course of the outing.

Matt and I returned to the deeper, slower pool at the bottom length of the stretch, surprised how far shadow had advanced.

"It's amazing how you forget time when fishing," I said.

It amazes me even more now as 1:00 a.m. approaches at the Steelhead Lodge near Pulaski. I had a nice bass on in no time many hours ago now that seems minutes, and for awhile had taken a hit on every cast.

"How are you doing that!?" Matt said.

"When we got here, we saw no bass at all in that sunlit water. They were under rocks and now they're out in the open. Each cast I make to a completely different range--all the way across, then straight up to my right. Bass may dart 15 or 20 feet to grab the worm, so when I get a hit there, the next cast I aim to a different place with the intent to come back around later. The hits are coming within two seconds of the worm hitting water."

Matt walked around and upstream of where I fished and nailed our best bass.

We drove to three more areas, and caught more bass at the last of these. At the Trestle Pool we found a recently dead Atlantic Salmon of about eight pounds. Joe here at Steelhead Lodge informs me that bass fishermen connect with Atlantic Salmon fishing plugs for bass from time to time.

After dinner we went back out to try for big brown trout. We had gone into Pulaski first thing to try to buy Muddler Minnows. Only small ones available, we bought big, bushy streamers with foam heads instead of with bead weights. We soaked them with floatant. The idea involved stripping them right across the surface of our deep hole of choice.

On Matt's third cast--I was still rigging up, but happened to be watching--something gargantuan erupted upon his streamer. It worked. But Matt didn't hook the fish. We fished over an hour savoring the night and the mystery of the strike. Matt caught a fallfish.

I had the notion to abandon ourselves to the night, to fish at least a few more pools for several hours and forget about blogging. At least I did feel this and I hope that Matt does as he grows into his most vital years. It just didn't really grab me, but for the nearly four hours that we fished in daylight, I never took a half-willed step.

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