We have been having some absolutely stellar fishing for Largemouth Bass right now. The warm temperature and the lack of heavy precipitation have kept the rivers looking great and fishing better.
We have had the rare conditions these past few days where all of our 80+ miles of river are fishing really well. Water clarity has been favorable with just a slight stain to make the fish feel more comfortable eating higher in the water. We have been using a number of tactics to target these fish during November. Every day is different and these fish have a multitude of options for forage in the river right now. We have typically been starting our days using topwater flies such as diving frogs, deer hair poppers, and anything else that makes a lot of noise. Changing the cadence of your retrieve is crucial to enticing these fish to come to the surface. Depending on the specific spot you are fishing you may need to slow down or speed of your retrieve of your fly. My general rule of thumb is; fast water, fast retrieve, slow water, slow retrieve.
When the fish get slower on top we start to work our way down in the water column. The first thing I reach for when working down is the tried and true wiggle minnow. The angled foam on this fly matched with a slow sinking intermediate line gives this fly a crank bait like action that aggressive bass cannot get enough of. The wiggle minnow has been responsible for putting more fish in the boat this season than any other fly we have fished. White, chartreuse, and yellow are all great color choices. I tend to stick with the bright colors so my anglers can see the fish take the fly. Not only is this exciting but it helps to see which way the fish turns after eating the fly allowing us to have the best possible hook set. We will have a hole blog post coming out about the tactics we use when fishing this fly specifically, stay tuned!
A lot of times we will see the fish just nipping at the tail of the wiggle minnow and just not committing fully to the eat. When we see this we switch over to a more passive presentation with a neutrally weighted bait fish fly. The 'game changer' platform is my go to for this presentation. A four to seven inch profile with a beefed up rear hook in white, pink, chartreuse, or any other bright color is what I normally reach for. The larger rear hook really helps to stick those noncommittal fish and the bright colored fly allows the angler to track their fly through structure. When fishing this fly during this time of the year I like to slow things down. A dead drift or slow swing presentation seem to get the most attention this time of year.
When things start to really slow down significantly and the fish are hugging the bottom and sticking close to the structure we have to slow down a lot and get deep. I reach for a crayfish or a clouser minnow fished on an intermediate or floating line with a long leader. I then put the fly offering as close to the bank or structure we are fishing and let it drop all the way to the bottom. You have to watch the tip of your fly line very closely as the takes from these slow fish can be very very subtle. I like to match my leader the the depth of water that we are fishing. Nine to twelve feet is my standard length, but if we need to fish deeper I will go up to fifteen feet. I try to avoid going deep at all costs as it can be a frustrating experience for a lot of anglers. You have to be mentally prepared for a lot of snags and a lot of lost flies, that being said, this method can produce some very quality fish.
November has given us some spectacular fishing this year, but we are nonetheless at the end of our Largemouth Bass season. We will still have some windows of fishing through December and January but our focus will largely transition to out migratory fishery. Pre season Striped Bass will be here in December and early season shad will begin in late January/Early February depending on water conditions. We are so excited to show folks the epic fishery the Tar hosts during these spring spawning runs. Our guide's calendars are starting to book up so go ahead and get that trip booked early!
We are also offering trip gift cards for the Christmas season this year! Half, 3/4, and full day certificates will be available on the website this week.