We only guide full-day trips for Umpqua Smallmouth bass for one reason: The fishing is so good you need a full day because a half-day trip just isn’t enough.. If you have never fly fished for Smallmouth bass on Oregon’s Umpqua River you are missing one of the most enjoyable days of fly fishing you can imagine.
In western Oregon, the best fishing for Smallmouth bass starts about the end of May and continues thru the summer months until mid September or when the water temperature drops below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Smallmouth bass are a very aggressive, predator type game fish. They seek cover and hiding places that will provide a good food supply while protecting them from osprey and bald eagles. They prefer the deep edges of drop offs, underwater rock formations, and slower current feeding lanes that will carry the food to them. Smallmouth bass are very opportunist; their diet includes: crawfish, leeches, small baitfish, aquatic insects and terrestrials at various times of the season.
Smallmouth fly fishing tip #1:
In springtime the smallmouth are very responsive to surface lures along shore lines and shallow areas that provide any degree of cover. They seem to favor the smaller # 6 and #8 poppers and sliders in white, yellow and olive green colors. Early in the morning the bass may want these top water lures to move very fast across the surface, almost as fast as you can strip in the line.
Smallmouth fly fishing tip #2:
My favorite way to fish a popper is to cast out to a likely looking spot, let the popper hit the water, make it pop one time and just let it sit for 15 to 20 seconds. If you don’t get a strike move it just a little and let it sit for another 10 to 15 seconds. Then, if you don’t get a hit, make a couple more short strips then cast to another spot. Keep casting to new holding waters. Don’t cast back to a spot you just fished. Always try to cover the water looking for new fishy spots.
Smallmouth fly fishing tip #3:
If am fishing the shorelines and water down to 4 feet, a #5 or #6 FW floating fly line with weighted streamer type flies is a good choice. If you are fishing waters 5 to 8 feet, a WF wet tip or a slow sinking line will produce good results. Leech patterns and small bait fish patterns in sizes 4, 6, and 8 will produce if properly fished. All styles of black, brown, and olive weighted wooly buggers, small Matukas, and crawfish patterns will produce fish.
Smallmouth fly fishing tip #4:
Most of the time the action that you give your fly is what will cause a smallmouth to strike. For best results after a cast of 30 to 40 feet, allow the fly to sink a foot or so then, point the rod tip right to the spot where the flyline goes into the water, make a quick 12″ strip, pause and allow the fly to sink a couple of inches, then another quick strip. This stop and start of the fly produces a wounded bait-fish action which will cause most game fish to strike. Continue this method of retrieve for about 5 feet then strip in and make another cast You may have to vary the retrieve and speed until you find a stop start action that the bass like for the fishing conditions that exist for that particular day.
These are just a few of the smallmouth bass fishing tips and techniques you will experience during a day on the river. We look forward to fishing with you this season.