Andrew Roth

Andy Roth is a fly angler and also a conservationist. His experience with fish and fly rod is international, but his concentration lies within the watersheds of the Midwest.

Posts about Bass

Fly Fishing Tactics for Mississippi Smallmouth

Posted by: Andrew Roth Updated: August 3, 2009 - 6:08 PM
The cool temps this summer have caused many fly anglers to change their tactics in order to be successful catching smallmouth bass on the Mississippi. Standard tactics for fly fishing the Mississippi during the mid July to mid August period primarily include active casting to the shoreline using topwater poppers and shallow running minnow imitations. This year these tactics have been far less successful leaving many fly anglers to ponder why they’ve been having these “less than spectacular” outings on a river that is consistently productive at this time of year. 
One theory that is continuing to prove itself out is that the fish are just not concentrating in the shallows as they usually do at this time, They are locating on the deeper water breaks and therefor are not as active in the first foot of the water column. Our trip on Saturday helped us to “believe” as we changed our tactics to sinking tips and weighted minnow and crayfish imitations. We did pound the banks as well but had far more success pulling away from the banks and fishing the mid-river breaks and slow deep water pools. Fish were caught more readily crawling slowly along the bottom rather than the active strip, strip, strip of shoreline fishing. A few beautiful, broad shouldered smallmouth were boated and released on a day that would have been slow had we continued business as usual. 
Changing tactics from the “usually successful methods” is many times difficult for anglers to have confidence in. The key many times is talking to other anglers. In our case it was talking to conventional anglers who have spent countless hours on the Miss fishing deep and slow, considering it their normal tactic. 

Pop the Top

Posted by: Andrew Roth Updated: July 7, 2009 - 7:40 PM
July marks the beginning of my favorite time of year for top water bass fishing with the fly rod. Yesterday’s trip to the Upper St. Croix River would once again prove why our warm water rivers are quickly becoming known by fly anglers as a destination to some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the country. 
The day started with the normal dropping of the shuttle vehicle at the down stream landing and the launching of the boat. In the last ten years fly anglers have transitioned to western style drift boats to navigate the wide, lower water sections of our larger rivers. These boats are designed to be highly maneuverable around rocks and draw little water. The drift boat also eliminates the need for gasoline engines and the noise created by them. The power source is the strong shoulders of the helmsmen, the current of the river, and the pulling of oars. This factor alone unlocks a sense of adventure from a time long past.
After 5 pattern changes my first fish came on a large yellow popper. This top water fly was cast to bank side targets and quickly “stripped” or “popped” creating an audible bloop, bloop, bloop. The fly imitates a frog or other struggling fauna which can trigger explosive strikes....and it does.  There were bass that leaped from the water and drove the fly down from above, There were bass that suctioned the fly from underneath with no discernible disruption to the waters surface, and there were bass and pike who would wake 6 feet across still water to chase down and slash at my yellow popper. I stuck with the popper the rest of the day. 
We alternated between floating and wading on this day since many of the targets under the shade of trees and along bank side grasses were unreachable from the boat. This added another pleasurable twist to the day with the cool waters of the St. Croix providing comfort to us from the heat of the day. There are few thing that I enjoy more when it comes to fly fishing than the ability to hunt and stalk from my hind legs. Wade fishing is total immersion and focus becomes hypersensitive.
When the boat landing came into view we were all tired and happy.....As it should be.  


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