Post by troutbum54 on Feb 16, 2018 15:32:35 GMT -6
So I went out to the access points in Welling since it’s about a mile from my house to try for some bass with the warmer weather. After a few hours all I managed to catch was a sucker and some rocks. Has anyone fished here and have any tips? I’m banking on hankinsfly having some advice.
Post by hankinsfly on Feb 16, 2018 17:19:55 GMT -6
It's all about lethargic fish right now, mate. I would look for the deeper pools and fish something slow and near bottom. Either a big dead drift bugger type or a long-ish sink tip and weighted bugger or streamer. You should really bank on Dain sharing his Baron Fork expertise. Dain?
I read an article a month or 2 back about some guides in the upper Midwest who do very well catching wintertime river smallies on Game Changer type streamers (which somewhat mimic a suspending jerk-bait). Something else to consider -- it wouldn't shock me if a lot of the bass in the Welling area winter up in the Illinois River or even the upper arm of Lake Tenkiller. Studies have shown that some smallies will migrate upwards of 30 miles to and from their wintering holes.
Last Edit: Feb 16, 2018 18:48:07 GMT -6 by danimal
To be honest with you man, I wouldn’t give much thought to fishing the baron fork until about mid may. Smallmouth prefer water temps of between 65 and 85 degrees. Anything less than 65 and they’ll be in wintering mode and lethargic. Once it really starts to get hot outside, end of may/early June, that’s when the water temps are prime for their metabolism and they start feeding heavily.
Summertime they aren’t difficult to find. Looks for them in similar types of water as you would a trout. They really relate to timber well. Anywhere that the river narrows around a fallen tree or sunken log is always a good spot. Baron fork they seem to like flats between riffles with good current and a little bit of depth, 2-3 feet or so. Flies aren’t really complicated, olive and brown woolly buggers, sculpin imitations, crawdads. Swing them when you find a good flat, strip them through riffles. We’ve done okay on clousers, as well, but usually a heavily weighted crawdad or woolly is all you need.
I usually trout fish this time of year. If I was going to chase smallies this time of year, I’d look for them in the deepest hole I could find and throw a big weighted sculpin or woolly down on the bottom and move it real slow. Not sure that baron fork is your best option for that style of fishing though. Might do better over on the Illinois (deeper holes, bigger water). Probably not a numbers game either way though.
Post by troutbum54 on Feb 17, 2018 14:01:55 GMT -6
I’ll probably wait til the water warms up some more but I planned on using some clousers on a longer leader with floating line and then some small EP minnows on a short leader with some intermediate line
Minnow patterns will work, but you’ll want to downsize from the ones you have tied up in the fly tying forum. Average sized fish you’ll catch on the baron fork is less than a lb. Instead of a 2 or 4, you’ll want to fish a size 8-10. Lots of baitfish in that river. Main concern with that EP minnow pattern is getting it down. Are you tying lead wraps into it? Even on a sink tip those things look pretty bouyant. Baron fork you’ll want to be right on the bottom.
I’ve been fishing the baron fork since I was in high school and it’s really not all that complicated. Most days you could leave a size 8 brown woolly bugger on the whole day and catch about 30 of them.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these are neosho strain smallmouth, which on average tend to run a bit smaller than what you find in the rest of the ozarks or on the blue. In fact a 15-16 inch smallmouth on the baron fork is a 20 incher anywhere else. I’d approach it much the same way you would a high mountain trout stream. Lighter gear (leave the 8 weight at home, bring your 5 or 6 with you), smaller flies, 3 or 4x tippet etc. Main thing to look for are optimal conditions. You want hot weather and a flow of between 120 and 150 CFS on the Eldon gauge.
Last time I went, I saw smallies chasing baitfish just under the surface. I could never get these to eat, but I think they were gone way before I ever got my clouser near where they popped on the surface. This is an extremely clear water river. I prefer fishing those calf-deep flats. I caught some of the smaller fish and saw a few big'ns. I did not know these were Neoshos! That's cool to know.
Yeah you’ll see smallies herding minnows into shallow areas a lot in the summer on the b fork. I’ve seen one eat a minnow a couple feet from my leg, it was pretty cool. Those are gonna be hard to catch though just bc water is so shallow that fly landing will spook them. About calf deep flats is perfect smallie water. Especially if it’s shaded and out of the sun.
Post by troutbum54 on Feb 19, 2018 10:56:07 GMT -6
I’ll probably throw some size 4 clousers (on SC15s so it’s like a #6 or 8 but with a better hook gap) and then I use a short leader with the intermediate line to make it more like a suspended bait, like a jerk bait.
Hankinsfky - thanks, those are different fish prettt sure, but def nice fish for the baron fork. I have some more let me see if I can find them.
Troutbum 54 - man I’d say feel free to experiment with some different stuff. I’m only speaking from my own personal experience here. Size 6 will be bigger than some of the fish that you catch on the baron fork honestly. If the type of hook makes it smaller than the size probably better. 8-10 seems to be about the magic size for me. Keep in mind, baron fork is small water and a lot of time you’re fishing low and clear conditions. Sometimes bigger flies will spook fish off in those conditions. Also, general rule of thumb with smallmouth is on the bottom or on the top. Generally speaking, you won’t have as much success middle of the water column but your results may differ. I’d try to approach it much the same way the gear fishing guys would. In those conditions, the gear guys will be throwing NED rigs and soft plastics on the bottom. Closest I can come to that is a brown woolly with a bead head on it. Just my two cents though man. You may kill them on EP minnows though who knows.
Post by hankinsfly on Feb 19, 2018 13:17:58 GMT -6
Pretty sure both of these are Barron fish. Love the marking of he bottom fish. Smallies are a true treasure, not to be killed. These fish are 100% natural, never been stocked. They very slow growth rate. Please practice catch and release.
Post by troutbum54 on Feb 19, 2018 20:30:03 GMT -6
I’m sure there’s a few bruisers somewhere in the barren fork, I’m guessing probably where it meets the UIR, and I’ll probably go see about that once the sandies start running and I can have a ton of fun