Smallmouth at The Dalles - 7/25/20

freednog

New member
Had a nearly wind-free day on the Columbia near The Dalles on Saturday. Mostly fished the Washington side but landed over 25 smallmouth. Had trouble finding the big fish but did find 2 in the 2# range, both on flies. Wooly Buggers did ok, but soft baits on drop shot brought the most fish in. I've never seen the river so calm so it heated up quite a bit. Got so hot we needed to take a dip to cool down.

Not many other bass fisherman on the water. Most seemed to be sturgeon or salmon fishing.
 

00Swede

Member
There does seem to be a lot of dinks to sift through this year. Starting to get some bigger fish recently though.
 

bass

Most Featured
Thanks for the report @freednog How deep were the dropshot fish?

I have stopped looking at the gorge because I can never find a day where it is going to be calm enough for long enough to make it worth the drive from Portland. I guess I should start keeping my eyes peeled!
 

Aervax

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Had a nearly wind-free day on the Columbia near The Dalles on Saturday. Mostly fished the Washington side but landed over 25 smallmouth. Had trouble finding the big fish but did find 2 in the 2# range, both on flies. Wooly Buggers did ok, but soft baits on drop shot brought the most fish in. I've never seen the river so calm so it heated up quite a bit. Got so hot we needed to take a dip to cool down.

Not many other bass fisherman on the water. Most seemed to be sturgeon or salmon fishing.
Your outing mirrors a couple of my past bass fishing outings on the Washington side out of The Dalles at a similar time of the year. I have become doubtful the Washington side fishes well this time of year in that location. The deep side of the islands north of the Marina is an easier spot to find keeper size bass. My best guess is as the water warms the bulk of the fish move off the banks and spread out toward deeper less obvious structure. Someplaces they are simply randomly scattered making it difficult to find more than a handful of keeper size fish over several hours.

The Columbia is so darn big and has so much good structure it makes them hard to find once they spread out in summer. I think the bigger fish on that river tend to frequently change locations in a seasonal pattern as temp and flows change. I guess that's no different than bass behavior anywhere else, it just feels more dispersed because the Columbia is bigger and harder to learn and predict those patterns. I am slowly learning how the daily/hourly changes to release flow for hydropower effects some of my spots where the bigger fish do show up to feed consistently this time of year.

It's one of the toughest fisheries to figure out that I've been on in when it comes to summer fishing. There are dinks galore to be found everywhere though. They do okay at creating some action to break up the monotony during tougher summer fishing. PM me next time you go. I'll pin a couple of places for you to try that are productive, though known to local bass aficionados. The top secret places, I'll take you there to fish together after signing an ironclad non-compete agreement. You might have to wear a blindfold while I drive us there, too. 😉
 

SciFly

Member
@freednog do you tie your own flies? If not, show these to a shop owner or friend and have some tied up. @Aervax is gasping right now! I'm sure he never expected me to actually post these, and honestly, I never thought I would either. Guess it's time to spread the love.

Now, I know the black wooly bugger is a super-classic, but these two puppies should be registered as WMD's. I typically don't get outfished on a fly rod if I'm throwing these flies. They are straight up gangsters on smallmouth. I have tied many variations of sizes and colors, have fished them in as many possible situations as I could manage, switching back and forth on good days "just to see", and I keep coming back to one of these two. I cannot stress enough the importance of not going beyond 3 inches (at least in my experience). As soon as I cross over that magical 3 inch mark my takes drop off exponentially as length increases. Both are tied Clouser-style with dumbell eyes underneath to swing the hook point up jig-style. I also now prefer the B10S hooks for their penetration and durability (top fly, black nickel, size #2).

1. Top fly, chartreuse arctic fox overwing spread out with your thumb to cover top 180 degrees of hook. Body is white crystal chenille with about 3-4 wraps of white polar chenille (has long fibers like hackle) palmered through it.

2. Bottom fly, olive over white (super hair??? cannot remember), thin black lateral line through center along with about 6-8 strands of flash. I like Mirage for its iridescence. If you look closely there are a couple strands that look red in the photo, but that is just the light at that angle. It changes color depending on the angle of light, much like the sides of real fish.

I prefer to fish these with either an intermediate or full sink line. This maintains a straighter connection from rod to fly without the big bow of a floating line in cross current or wind, greatly improving hook sets. Use the standard rip-slight pause-rip, with an occasional 2-second pause. Switch it up constantly until you find a pattern that is producing. Every day and situation is a little different. You will eventually discover your own "most productive" rhythm, but always be prepared to switch it up if you stop getting bumps. Best of luck to you on your next trip. Please let me know if these patterns bring you fish.

**Disclaimer: I am not in any way claiming I invented these patterns** Most have heard of the famous Bob Clouser. His flies were all tied with buck tail and I used a synthetic I already had on hand. However, the top fly is just a variation (tied Clouser-style) of a Tui Chub fly created by a guide named Jan Nemec out of Reno (mimicflyfishing.com). He is a stud fly fisherman and designs some great flies. I just added dumbell eyes like a Clouser and changed the colors for bass rather than trout. The base pattern in Jan's.

streamers.jpg
 

Aervax

Most Featured
@SciFly
Holy Moly!!!
I cannot believe you just posted that.

@freednog
I wanted to share the top secret bass fly with you, but SciFly truly perfected it. Disclosure is outside my agreement with him under penalty of dislocation of my casting arm. I have seen it in action on the end of SciFly's rod. You've just been handed THE brass ring. Go out there and try it.

I have had intermittent success using wooly buggers for bass. For smallies I have better success using lighter brighter colors, kind of the opposite to most of the trout buggers in my box.
 
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