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Help fishing a small stream "backwards"

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I have got the smallie fever pretty badly this summer and am having a blast pulling them out of all sorts of random small waterways.  However, an due to being in a really developed area, most of the smaller rivers/streams are badly eroded, making bank access very hit or miss, with huge stretches only fishable via wading.  Normally this is no issue as I enjoy getting wet but there is a stream nearby that has me stumped.  The issue is that due to parking access, I have to park upstream of the area I want to fish.  This spot had a highway build over part of it and as such the .gov had to do a ton of stream restoration which produced some just beautiful habitat.  However, the banks are still super steep and average about 5'-6' above the water.  This area has no official trails and not even any unofficial ones that I have found, so my options to walk down stream involve bushwhacking through a ton of poison ivy and thorns, which isn't very appealing.  This leaves me with the option of having to fish upstream to down.

The spot I am interested in is only maybe 20' wide at most, with the restoration work cutting that in half in many places.  I went out there yesterday and other then a few sunfish, I struck out.  Now, I did manage to spook a few smallies, so I know there are in there, but I am having no luck getting them to bite fishing down to up and even less luck sneaking past them to cast upstream. 

Is there a trick to this or do I need to head out there one day with a grass whip and machete and do a little trailblazing?  I was fishing a Ned and some small tubes, are there better lures for fishing down current?  I was thinking of trying a 3" stick worm under a bobber and letting it float down current, keeping the bail open and letting line out through my fingers, but some of the best spots go from a 1' deep run/riffle to a 3' pool so I don't think a bobber is going to work too well. 

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 purple bunny leach on the fly rod. just let it swing and drift around below you. smallies can't stand it.

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Hah, clearly the Monkey has agents everywhere. I do want to get a fly rod eventually but I am currently trying to become proficient with a casting reel, so the fly rod will have to wait for a bit.

Are there any lures that will work this way on a L or UL spinning rod?  I still worry about missing larger fish in the deeper pools, but I guess a float-n-fly would work, but I think it would also catch every 4" bluegill in the stream as well. 

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From my experience a bobber doesn't work very well in current.  Maybe others use a different setup but I've tinkered with bobbers and slip bobbers to adjust depth of presentation and its never worked that well.  Bushwhacking through heavy brush sucks and your likely to come down with fireweed or poison ivy or get full of ticks doing it.  I would either float it downstream in a canoe, kayak, or small jon boat or wade it upstream.  Its easier walking when you wade downstream but you'll spook fish doing that.  It sounds like the water is pretty clear too if you can see them.  Recall those spots that you spooked fish before and cast to them from as far away as you can.  What is the primary forage in the stream?  Crayfish?  Minnows?  Frogs?  Match your lure presentation to those and use a stealthy approach.  Downsize and use natural colors.  Try to go in the morning or evening when its not so bright out too so visibility is reduced.

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I'd probably try a small topwater fished up and acrossed the stream, worked back slow w/ a small jerk,pause, jerk jerk pause type action. It's the same thing us fly fisherman will do with small poppers. In my experience, the longer the pause the better. I've been known to let the lure/fly drift without moving it for 5-10 seconds. The other thing that may work well would be a simple hair jig.

You're on the east coast too, which if I remember correctly has a Cicada hatch that's supposed to happen this year. I know next to nothing about those insects, but if you're seeing them hatch right now, the chances are high that you would slaughter smallies on a matching lure. And I know there are at least a few companies out there making Cicada topwater lures.

But I'm with Further North as far as the recommendation for a fly rod. Most people say I'm crazy, but I would put a fly rod up against live bait or artificials any day of the week on a small stream. Fly fishing offers you some different sink rates/movement and styles that you just can't duplicate with conventional tackle.

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The cicada idea is interesting, I had not thought of that and was not yet fishing when the last one happened.  

Here is what the section I am trying to fish looks like:

WzGSYjBl.jpg

The large rocks are from the restoration work and really narrow the flow down. 

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Why do you think fishing downstream is fishing backwards?  If you were a trout fisherman, that would be what trout fishermen might say, but aren't you fishing for smallmouth? If you are wading and you normally only go upstream, dont you fish your way back to where you started?

There are lots of ways to fish moving downstream. If you shuffle your feet as you walk, you will stir up the bottom kicking up all sorts edible critters that bass eat which will get their attention. Stop frequently and don't move your feet for several minutes which will give the bass time to settle back down. If you are fishing now, in the hottest parts of the summer, I hope you are finding the fastest moving water you can.  This is a must. If there is little to no current, move on. Toss a small spinner or shallow crank bait down stream and reel it back very slowly, stopping to let the current rush past the bait. Top waters also work well against the current. Hold it in likely spots next to a rock or a log where a fish might be holding out of the current. A bait spinning or vibrating held next to a bass will drive them nuts. 

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That's the stream your trying to fish?!  It can't be more than a few inches deep.  Do you have a major drought there?  Scott brought up a very good point.  Target areas with at least some current because current creates moving water which creates more oxygen which also creates more food for bass to eat.

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Lots of nice rocks for a dam?

I would use joes flys in black gnat.

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On July 15, 2016 at 7:31 PM, Scott F said:

Why do you think fishing downstream is fishing backwards?  If you were a trout fisherman, that would be what trout fishermen might say, but aren't you fishing for smallmouth? If you are wading and you normally only go upstream, dont you fish your way back to where you started?

There are lots of ways to fish moving downstream. If you shuffle your feet as you walk, you will stir up the bottom kicking up all sorts edible critters that bass eat which will get their attention. Stop frequently and don't move your feet for several minutes which will give the bass time to settle back down. If you are fishing now, in the hottest parts of the summer, I hope you are finding the fastest moving water you can.  This is a must. If there is little to no current, move on. Toss a small spinner or shallow crank bait down stream and reel it back very slowly, stopping to let the current rush past the bait. Top waters also work well against the current. Hold it in likely spots next to a rock or a log where a fish might be holding out of the current. A bait spinning or vibrating held next to a bass will drive them nuts. 

I usually like to fish upstream, then walk on the bank on the way back, stopping to hit any hot spots I had found.  

Spinners and micro cranks are good ideas, I fish them both for perch but never think to use them for bass.  The spot I do most of my SM fishing is so productive with a Ned rig or other small plastics, I got into a mental rut I guess.

The picture is deceptive, the stream was badly erroded for decades so the banks are still super steep.  The riffles average 6-12" and the pools are up to 3-4'. I turned around that day when I hit a run that would have been above my waist. 

I have caught decent numbers of small SMs maybe 2 miles down stream of this spot, but the non-restored areas are tough to fish with pools that are crazy deep.  

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A fluke should work similar to bunny leach. small stream you need something that lands softly. make long casts and be stealthy.

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I fish a small creek few times a week for smallies and I park upstream put my kayak in and float down hammering them all the way down then turn around and hammer them all the way back to my truck. I use weightless flukes, small poppers, shakey heads, jigs, mans minus 1 cranks. The creek o fish is only 3' at most in some holes the rest is less then a foot. Smallies are scattered all over and in good numbers and size. 

 

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I was brought up trout fishing and the one thing I learned really fast is that fish face upstream. Doesn't matter the species. Moving water dictates that is what they have to do, in order to eat. Consequently, I always fish heading upstream when possible. Moving downstream puts you at a disadvantage, as the fish will probably have a better chance at seeing you, before you have of seeing them.

If you cannot blaze a southerly trail on the land, before starting to fish up, I'd recommend a very slow wade downstream, allowing more time than normal to make your cast/presentation. Let things settle down before you even start to fish. Wear subdued clothing or camo and try to blend in. A white hat will definitely put them off. Good Luck! :)

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