Wouldn’t it be nice during this soon-to-come prettiest season of the year to do some near wilderness fishing?  To roam where almost no one else goes, cast for fish who seldom or never see a hook, to wade where deer come to drink and wild  turkeys slip through shoreside brush?  You can do it, and might be surprised to hear that such fishing might be just a few miles away.  I’m talking about wading or floating rivers and streams for hard fighting smallmouth bass.

Looking back over a checkered career I’ve fished for stream bronzebacks in a little creek outside of Dayton, in Ohio Brush Creek, the Kokosing, the Mohican, the Sandusky clear down to Bucyrus, the Huron, Vermillion, upper Olentangy, the list goes on and on.  And caught bass in every one of them.  In the wading streams I asked landowners for permission first, then wore shorts and old tennis shoes to probe the pools, long, smooth runs, and the base of riffles.

On trips to the Vermillion River, for example, I remember seeing another angler just once, this after I got away from bridges, and was so surprised that I just stood there dumbfounded.  The other angler did, too.  But I did see deer and was glared at by suspicious groundhogs.  Fox squirrels chattered in the treetops and wood ducks rose in flocks with their mournful whistle.  It was near wilderness, and the bass slammed into my offerings as if they’d never seen a lure.  Possibly, they hadn’t.

It doesn’t take much to do a little stream fishing.  I invariably travel with a whippy ultra-lite rod and 4-6 pound test line.  My “tacklebox” fits in a shirt pocket and usually has a quarter ounce, pearl-grey Roostertail spinner, a black jig or two with twistertails, a tiny surface Pop-R, and a minature crankbait of some kind that will imitate crayfish.  That’s it.  If these won’t bag stream bass, nothing will.

It never hurts to take mosquito repellent as well, though with the summer long drought, mosquitoes have been nearly non-existant so far.  And maybe a cell phone for a “Mayday” just on the slight chance that you slip and are injured.  I also like a very light little backpack to hold a sandwich or two, an apple, and a container of water.  But that’s it. 

Most days I start out with the spinner, working runs in early morning and the base of riffles where bass gather to feed on hapless morsels tumbling through white water.  As morning progresses and fish move back to deeper pools I usually switch to a crankbait first, then bump the bottom with black jigs.  It’s a tactic that seldom fails to succeed.

Don’t forget that even very small streams and creeks can hold smallmouth bass.  One that lies just a few miles from home winds through pasture land and timber and averages just 3-4 inches deep.  But there are small pools here and there, some just a foot or so , and others perhaps three or four feet.  The last time I fished it, my catch was over a dozen bronzebacks, along with several rockbass, a few big chubs, and even a bluegill. 

 The bass, all returned to fight again, were like stream smallies anywhere, averaging 6-10 inches with an occasional fish that went 12 or 13.  But they were vicious fighters, leaping high with their red eyes glowing.  Lots of fun on light tackle, and worth a trip over the next weeks.

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