Tag Archives: Woolly Bugger

Balmy Memorial Day Weekend

We all look forward to the official start of the summer season and the beginning of fishing summer 2016. This year we were treated to the impending threat of Tropical Storm Bonnie, which despite of the risk of rain, brought some welcome hot weather to bookend our cool spring. The increasing temperatures livened up the action on the Paulinskill and other Trout streams throughout the preceding week.

Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle

Timing

I took off Friday from work and used both Friday and Saturday to work on my house project. Sunday was planned to be the day for fishing, an important choice because it is also the day of parades, limiting the foot traffic on the rivers. On warm to hot days like what the weathermen were predicting, the key to catching fish is to go early in the morning or late in the day. We started around 6AM in order to get in the holes just as the sun was rising.

This time of year, the river offers all the seclusion that you need.
This time of year, the river offers all the seclusion that you need.

Technique

This time of year is always a good time to break out the color green on the Paulinskill and other local waterways. You can use leverage either Woolly Buggers or Trout magnets. Knot Just Flies in Blairstown has even had a few custom flies spun up specifically for this time of year. A four or five weight Fly Rod or ultra-light weight spin tackle is all you will need.

Nice Rainbow caught on a Woolly Bugger.
Nice Rainbow caught on a Woolly Bugger.

Results

The Trout and Smallmouth have moved from there early and mid season holding locations. The heat is forcing them to seek springs, deeper pools and more oxygenated water. Unfortunately, we even noticed some dead Rainbow carcasses; these fish likely expired from the heat.

Nice Smallmouth caught on the tube.
Nice Smallmouth caught on the tube.

Plying the deep pools slowly and areas known to have cooler waters due to overhanging trees and brush yielded results quickly. The stocked Rainbow Trout have grown since they were first put in here; some of them are pushing over fourteen inches. The growth in these Trout is always nice to witness, as the strong ones tend to become holdovers lasting the entire year.

All of the spring 2016 broods are growing up!
All of the spring 2016 broods are growing up!

Some of the Smallmouth are still watching nests in the river; others are firmly in post spawn hunger mode now. The Smallmouth Bass in the river were sitting in more oxygenated and cooler pools. Looking for the bubbles in the current was a good indicator of potential holding locations. Mark also found that locating a nest was they key to landing a large one.

Formerly a stocked Rainbow that is now growing well.
Formerly a stocked Rainbow that is now growing well.

Let’s all pray for cooler and wet weather to keep the water comfortable and the fish eating.

A fawn hiding on an island in the river.
A fawn hiding on an island in the river.

End of Summer 2015

The summer of 2015 commenced as a cooler than average summer trailing a long, cold and snowy winter. In fact, due to the weather we experienced, Rainbow Trout have been taken from the Paulinskill throughout the summer. Since mid August, a significant heat wave combined with a lack of rain has reduced river-fishing opportunities. These conditions will improve once the fall rains commence. In the meantime, fishing for warm water species early in the morning or late in the evening remains quite productive.

Sunfish, palm sized delight.
Sunfish, palm sized delight.

August Doldrums

To celebrate the conclusion of this summer and the beginning of, “Cast and Blast Autumn 2015,” we of course, went fishing. This time of year, I cannot stress enough the importance of waking up before dawn and wetting your line by sun up. With Mark still driving from Morristown, I headed over to Dale’s Market in Blairstown for one of their famous breakfast sandwiches. After consuming this delicious creation and 16 ounces of fresh coffee, I hopped in the FJ and headed north to the river.

Crappie that came over the dam.
Crappie that came over the dam.

This morning was to be an epic day of catching warm water species in the Paulinskill. I have often said, the Paulinskill holds a seemingly unbelievable biomass. This morning was a strong confirmation of my previous statements. Mark and I caught the following species in multiple: Crappie, Smallmouth, Sunfish, and Largemouth Bass. They were caught consistently until around mid day. In this river, the fish may not grow the largest but there are a plethora of them.

The Epic Battle

Throughout the summer, these electronic pages have catalogued the pursuit of Smallmouth Bass in the rivers of Warren and Sussex County, New Jersey. Of the countless hours I have put in pursuing the scrappy fighters, the four hours on Saturday were highly rewarding.

A diminutive Smallmouth that fought well for its size.
A diminutive Smallmouth that fought well for its size.

Perched in the spillway of the dam, which didn’t have much water coming over due to drought conditions, I spied some actively feeding Bass in the sand and weeds. These Smallies must have been chomping on little minnows and crustaceans that were washed over the dam.

Spotting the feeding fish, I false cast my Sage 8’6” VXP 4WT two times and then fired about 50 feet of line out of the tip. A near perfect cast, my custom mohair Woolly Bugger landed right in the opening where the Smallmouth was hiding. As the ripples from the splash settled, I quickly gave the fly some action as it fell to the river bottom. Then I felt the tug, the tug that could only originate from a sizeable Smallmouth!

Typical Paulinskill River Smallmouth.
Typical Paulinskill River Smallmouth.

I maneuvered the fish and put the fight on the reel, just as this was complete, the Smallie went aerial. I bowed the rod to the fish simultaneously losing my balance and almost going for a swim. My studded wading shoes prevailed and I caught myself before swimming with the fish. In the end, I landed this fish, tagging in at about two pounds.

You can note how low the Paulinskill is right now.
You can note how low the Paulinskill is right now.

More Fun

As anticipated the fishing turned off by eleven and it got quite warm outside. The whole team then headed over to the Lazy “K” Ranch, our club headquarters, currently under construction in Frelinghuysen, NJ. There we tried out the new Ruger .357 revolver that Zach acquired in the last week. We also started to work on our wing shooting performance that will be required in less than two months.

Mark takes aim with the Ruger .357
Mark takes aim with the 1911.

Smallies on Funday

Now that the primary elections are complete, I have once again focused attention on generating some quality reading material for our audience. The MKFF Team East assembled in full force at the Dale’s Market parking lot on Sunday morning. Eating Dale’s Famous Breakfast Sandwich on the tailgate of Mark’s Toyota Truck has become a regular ritual for the team. In a future video blog we will evaluate the Taylor Ham or Pork Roll sandwiches available from the shores of the Paulinskill. For today, we decided to provide you (our readers), with a short synopsis on Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass with info on the species, techniques, flies, and river conditions.

When Nature Calls The Bio Wipes Are Ready

Conditions

Early in the season we reported on the low water levels and high temperature. Fortunately, conditions have changed. On June 11, in Blairstown, the river is flowing at 160 CFS. I neglected to take the temperature, however, what I can report is that the temperature is in the higher range of optimal for Trout. Evening thunderstorms are ideal for controlling the river temperature.

Mark And Kuhn Fishing A Slow Run

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass occupy a habitat similar to that of Trout; they are more amenable to a wider variety of water temperatures. Thus, you will locate Smallies in watercourses with sand or gravel bottoms and cool, clean, and clear water. In the Paulinskill, when the balmy summer heat forces the Trout into the cooling springs, Smallies occupy the territory vacated by the Trout.

Smallmouth Bass

Juvenile Smallmouth Bass feed on Zooplankton and Midge Larva. The adults feed on Crayfish and other aquatic invertebrates. The adults typically reach sizes of 12 to 15 inches, possibly reaching a maximum of 24 inches. One to two pounds is the typical weight of an adult Smallmouth.

Baby Turtle Hanging Out Riverside

Tactics

Smallies that make the Paulinskill their home tend to hold in a few key areas:

  1. The shade of overhanging branches and logjams.
  2. Behind large rocks and other obstructions in the stream.
  3. Areas of visible current or runs.

I have found that Smallmouth Bass will feed on almost all of the same flies that the Trout will consume in similar sizes. In addition, the Bead Head Woolly Bugger, preferably green with some flash, size 10 or 12, pulls fish out of the Paulinskill.   Rainbow Trout Pulled Out Of A Cool Section Of River

Bragging Rights

As I indicated above the water temperatures and conditions were optimal for the full range of Paulinskill River species. Special shout out for Mike’s Bass Grand Slam!

  • Mike Busteed – Smallmouth, Largemouth and Rock Bass
  • Mark Beardmore – Smallmouth, Sunfish, Brook Trout, Shiner
  • Christopher Kuhn – Smallmouth, Rainbow Trout, Sunfish
  • Deborah Walters – Smallmouth, Sunfish
  • Dave Boynton – Smallmouth
    Green Woolly Bugger With Tan Marabou

     

Fly-Fishing for Smallmouth: in Rivers and Streams