Last I stream fished smallmouth bass, I tried plastics for ten minutes after shiners ran out and turned away despising these imitations. Today I fished the South Branch Raritan under an hour with five-inch Senko-type worms to catch three bass, miss too many hits, and suffer the sting of a good bass breaking the line at the knot just after catching the 14-plus- inch bass I photographed.
Senko worms are an old standby. They cast a mile--that's an advantage. But the disadvantage for long casts is the bow in the line the current quickly creates. Even if you set almost immediately--and quick sets prevent gut hooking--chances are high that you will just pull the worm out of an opened mouth, the bass reacting to tension too loose to drive the hook.
Stepping into a wild space really lets you know you have brittle nerves if you happen to be stressed out. I had spent most of the day unaware of my condition until I stepped onto gravel and rocks and had a difficult time at it. Honestly, even after hiking well upstream, slogging against strong current in my sneakers, sneaking through thick aquatic vegetation and algae thigh deep and wondering if a snapping turtle would claw out ahead of me, nature did not restore me to normal today. But while marching back to meet a schedule felt very stressful, the good-size stream bass I caught did make it feel worthwhile.