Upon arrival at our undisclosed location, we drew some funny looks from the locals who had probably never seen a drift boat grace any of their local waters. After a sketchy boat launch straight into 1200 cfs (a lot for us Texans), we were ready to pick this river apart in search of a prized “small jaw.” The name of the game was casting to shallow gravel drop offs and structure hoping to lure one into the open to eat. It was quality over quantity for this particular trip as the few smallies caught were absolute stunners and would’ve been envied no matter the fishery.
Similar to their cousin the largemouth bass, smallmouth feed on just about anything and everything they can fit in their mouths including smaller baitfish, frogs, and crawfish. Our fly boxes were full with a variety of treats, but the fish were more selective than we thought they would be. The fly of choice was a Bugger Changer created by Blaine Chocklett, a legend when it comes to fly design. In fact, all of our fish for the weekend were caught on this single fly. Cooler water temps forced us to forget about any chance of a top water bite, but made for some awesome “at the boat” subsurface eats. Leader selection for smallmouth is as simple as can be, again, most of us fished 12-16 lb leaders, with lengths no more than 8ft.