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Weather and smallie fishing...full of contradictions....

Two groups floated the same stretch of the New river in the mountains on Sat. Water conditions were okay...dingy...not great but judged fishable. One group of 4 (i.e. two anglers per guide boat) boated about 80 fish...mostly on the spinning rod. The other group.... 4 anglers in canoes and yaks only boated about 3 or 4. Probably due in large measure to the differences in smallie fishing experience and familiarity with the river and spots that usually produce...and having to manage and maneuver their own boats.

I arrived Sat. even in the Ashe county area and and a largely unexpected and unforecast storm and heavy rain had both the S. and N. Forks and the New fact you would watch the muddy conditions change from bad to worse. Probably going to be unfishable on Sun. And, the forecast for Sunday was for mostly cloudy, increased chances of showers and more thunderstorms. But, since I was there, I made myself cruise over to check out the forks and river on Sun. morning. N. Fork was still chocolate milk with a deep red-mud tinge. New was the same. However, amazingly the S. Fork had cleared to fishable conditions. Hmmm...Sun. meant lots of kayaks, canoes and a massive "tube" potentially crowded and loud. But, any floating and fishing is better than none.

So, I launched the 16' canoe amid about a dozen waders and swimmers, rigged 2 fly rods and a spinning rod, and headed downriver. Well, the canoes, yaks and tubes all came along is good numbers....but so did the smallies and redeyes. Several hit topwater #4 sliders and quite a few attacked a subsurface crayfish pattern, fished in tandem with the floating slider (not much fun to cast even on the 8wt...but effective). Had a few fish on soft plastics but topwater and subsurface flies were producing so consistently, I stayed with the long rod most of the day. Several of the redeyes were "pan size" but released anyway. Most smallies ranged about 8-12 inches with a few running a tad larger. Best fish was around 14-15 and took the topwater bug drifted under a large overhanging tree. Best of all, there were no showers or much for the forecast.
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