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Early Fall River Smallmouth Fly Fishing

KleverCloudsFly Fishing for Mississippi Smallmouth in Early October

Yesterday we fished a section of the Mississippi north of Monticello, MN. The forecast called for some heavy weather in the offing, but we hoped it would go north of us.

You can get a glimpse of the funky cloud formations behind my partner who’s holding a 19″er. 

With the water temperatures in the low 60’s, things have not transitioned to late fall patterns, but we needed to slow down a bit.

Gone are the days of frantically stripping in a streamer to entice a fish. These fish preferred either a dead drift or slightly twitched fly. 

We staked out on known sections along the shoreline that provided definition and varied water types.

We focused, as usual on natural rock wing dams and other protrusions, with accompanying eddies and defined current brakes.

Two retrieves worked fairly well:

1. Cast quartering upstream, mend the line, and dead drift with occasional twitching; and 
2. Cast across, let the fly swing down river and slowly strip it back in.

Most of my hits came when stripping up against the current allowing time for the fly to drop back down. Hits came on the drop, as usual. 

Even with a wild weather system moving in, fish were fairly responsive to gray and white bunny flies with pearl estaz toward the head of  the fly which also sported large bead-chain eyes. This pattern was not as flashy as a traditional Murdich, which was our “go-to” summer fly. This more subtle presentation seemed more to their liking on this day.

Finally the system turned the wrong way and, as the lightning approached and the winds came up, we hopped in the canoe and headed back to the landing just before the deluge. 

Lessons learned: While many believe smallmouth will head into deep holes this time of year, many fish were still in the deeper runs. This required the use of split shot to get the flies down. We prefer using split shot to Clouser-type jigs, since the split shot allow a fly to move more naturally in the current. We positioned the weight about 6 -8 inches above the fly on 8# test tippets and this worked well. 

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