Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We caught a few other fishes too

So, you already read about the first Smallies of 2011. Unfortunately, none of the bass we caught on our trip were big enough to qualify for our Bass Slam quest.

Since we were fishing the Spring River in Arkansas... Smallmouth Bass weren't the only thing on the menu. The Spring has a healthy diversity of fishes that I have affectionately written about before. Where else can you catch a Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, and several species of panfish all from the same pool in a river? Don't answer that question... there may be a few places in more northern latitudes, but there certainly aren't many in my part of the country. The species diversity is the reason Kelly and I love the Spring so much.

Here's the rundown of what all we caught... to the best of our recollection...
  • 2 Shadow Bass
  • 1 Largemouth Bass
  • 3 Smallmouth Bass
  • 1 Bluegill
  • 2 Longear Sunfish
  • 1 Hornyhead Chub
  • 1 Largescale Stoneroller
  • 25-30 stocker Rainbows (lost exact count)

Of the Rainbows, I caught about eight while Kelly caught around twenty... but who's counting?

Cookie cutter Rainbow

The single Largemouth was caught using my new favorite topwater bass fly, the Bunny Butt Slider, designed and tied by Steven Milburn. Unfortunately, I missed a fish just before I hooked up with the Largemouth that I'm quite sure was a Smallie. It's rare to catch a Smallmouth on the surface at the Spring River, but it was a shallow pool in the early morning, and the conditions just suggested I give the Bunny Butt Slider a try. I didn't really expect to catch a Largemouth... but the Spring is full of surprises.

Foam and bunny strip make a really nice slider.

Mr. Milburn tied up this red and white version at my request. I think the pattern imitates a wounded surface minnow very well, and in my experience a red/white combo is usually well received by baitfish predators. The bass seem to like it, and I'm quite sure I missed a trout on it later in the day... not that I really expected to catch a trout with it.

Maybe even more surprising than almost catching a trout on a big bass slider was catching a Longear Sunfish on a large Clouser Minnow (also tied by Steven Milburn). I was trying to get something down deep in a pool that I thought might have a good Smallmouth in it... and instead I caught this little guy. Amazingly, he was fair hooked... even though there was no way he could have physically fit the whole hook in his mouth. He somehow bit the hook point just perfectly.

Small fish, big appetite

The Spring River never ceases to amaze... or entertain.


  1. Fine fishing, and the Longear on the Clouser is my favorite picture, even though I do love the Smallies. Congrats on a great day.

  2. Looks like you had a hell of a time. Hope you guys keep tearing 'em up.

  3. Jay
    The trout Kelly caught is a nice catch, and the sun perch which is what a lot of folks here in Jasper call this fish is beautiful, the colors are radiate. I can see why you like this place so well; it gives you a lot of diversity. The Slider could be really effective on Smith when you fish it with me. Great Post.

  4. Nice going to both of you. It would be nice to find some diverse waters here.

  5. Hey, Jay, enjoyed your post again. Nice variety always makes the fishing interesting. If I could just get some stable weather of any kind, I might find me a Smallmouth to have fun with.

  6. FlyFshrGrl, glad you like the Longear Clouser photo. That was my favorite fishing moment of the trip.

    Mark, we always have a hell of a time... even when the fishing is a bit slower.

    Bill, looking forward to experimenting with all sorts of stuff on Smith Lake.

    Cofisher, you could always come visit the Mid-South.

  7. Mel, the weather here has been awful. We got in fur hours Saturday morning before the storms started. We even fished in a little bit of rain. I'm sure now the river would look like chocolate milk. I can't wait for things to calm down a bit. It's been nothing but one bad storm after another around here lately.

  8. Sounds like a day for the books! congrats to both of you guys. There aren't too many places where I live or grew up here in NY with that kind of vareity of fish that can be caught at the same time of year. I'm a bit jealous.

  9. Kiwi, don't be jealous, just come visit the Spring River some time, but don't do it now. It and every other drainage around here is currently flooded. Kelly and I squeezed in our fishing just before the chaos began. The Mississippi River is likely to set a new record for flood stage crest here in the next two weeks. We've had between 6" and 10" of rain in the area in just the last 24 hours. No fishing around here for a while unless it's in a pond.

  10. Looks like you had a pretty sweet day...Glad you had some fun!

  11. Nice Post! Well be at camping and fishing at the Sring River May 3rd through May 7th. I hope the water is back to normal by then. I like the area alot although I wish there were some catch and release areas. I don't think there are any? If you get the change stop by for a cold one.

  12. Dustin and I have caught some little fish on some big crazy flies. It's nuts. Spring River sounds like an awesome place. I like river's with all that diversity.


  13. i must commend that sunfish for it's large appetite. touche sunfish...touche.

  14. FWE-Kevin, I'll try to stop by if I'm in the area. The Spring usually recovers pretty quickly, but we've had a lot of rain in the region as you know... so, it's hard to know when it will clear up. The are no C & R areas on the Spring- it's really just a "put & take" fishery for trout, but there are some big holdovers. Supposedly the trout don't reproduce because of water chemistry, but I think it is just as likely that all the other fish species wouldn't give the redds or fry a chance. I think the recreational paddlers (and canoe liveries) control the river to an extent and the fishing interests take a back seat. It would be hard to regulate C & R areas with all of the people fishing from canoes that would float through them... and probably disregard them.

    Stephanie, the Spring is awesome. You should try it out when you're back in the region.

    Ivan, it was an impressive feat. I only wish I could have fed him a real meal for his efforts.