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Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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2008/6/28 15:57
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I'm a huge fan of fly fishing for smallmouth bass in rivers- but most of the places I know about in my area are large, wide rivers like the Potomac, which often have water too deep to wade, large expanses of so-so habitat, prone to muddy, with wide flow and temperature variations.

What I'd really like to find are some good quality smaller waters, like tributary streams of the Potomac or Susky, large enough to hold some bass over 1 lb. but small enough to be wadeable from bank to bank, at least between the deep pools. Ideally, the habitat would be mostly gravel, ledges, and boulders, with generally clear water and enough gradient to provide for steady current, and nice comfortable wet wading temps in the mid-70s

Large fish are not a top priority, although it obviously would be a plus. On the other hand, I don't want the average size to be too small. Mostly I'd just like to find some places with a decent population of 8"-14" smallies, with some redeyes and sunnies, and whatever else might be in the mix.

I've heard that both lower Penn's Creek and the Juniata have good bass fishing- but I've only passed by part of their lower stretches, and the parts that I've seen appear to be too deep and slow-moving for what I prefer. I'd like to find places shallow enough to wade. And as I mentioned- I'd also prefer to find some waters closer to home- Antietam, Conodoguinet, Conocheague?

The closer to the Pa.-Md. border, the better- but l'm also interested in Susky tribs in central Pa. I'd also like to know about small rivers and streams in Md. itself (I live in the DC area).

If you don't want to spot burn, feel free to play it cool and PM me

Posted on: 2011/1/15 16:58


Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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I would just like to say that I am also interested in these questions, as a fellow DC area flyfisherman.

Posted on: 2011/1/15 21:47


Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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when I want to find new water I grab a rod, a bag of flies, my Delorme Atlas and just start driving. It's a lot more fun than getting spoonfed info on the internet.

Posted on: 2011/1/15 23:28


Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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lower pine creek has a nice bass population

Posted on: 2011/1/16 8:56
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Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?
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Barbless,
All the streams you mention have SMB populations - go check 'em out. Having done a good bit of searching for SMBs in SC PA I'd offer this tidbit of wisdom for what it's worth: When you search out streams for bass, check several areas and do it mainly after about mid July. SMB populations in small rivers and creeks are sporadic, broken, migratory, and seasonal. Many creeks have good bass pops but only in certain sections. If you check one area, it may be completely devoid of fish but up or downstream you might find a pool that's loaded. I don't know why this is, but good bass creeks tend to be different than good wild trout streams - in the latter, fish are usually well spread out and good habitat tends to hold fish in predictable numbers. With bass, this tends to be less the case in my experience. Also, many creeks hold bass only on a seasonal basis and will see an almost complete migration of most bass out of these creeks after first frost and in many cases the fish will not return to these creeks until late spring or early summer. Last year, for some reason, many of my favorite bass creeks never saw many fish return. I attribute this to very low water levels in the May to July time frame but I really don't know why bass fishing in creeks was so poor last summer (at least for me).

Posted on: 2011/1/16 9:16


Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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when I want to find new water I grab a roda bag of fliesmy Delorme Atlas and just start driving.


I presume you live in Pennsylvania

That would make it easy for you to say.

Someone told me the other day that PA has more rivers and streams than any other state except Alaska. I haven't confirmed that, but it's undoubtedly a fact that the state is rich with that natural wealth.

For instance, I can't think of another state with trout streams- including wild trout streams- in every region of it's territory, North to South, East to West.

It is sort of amazing to me that this state apparently has more miles of rivers, streams and creeks that host good populations of 12"-21" brown trout than there are miles of stream habitat where 12"-21" smallmouth bass are plentiful. Not that I'm complaining, but it is unusual. Many other states don't have all that much of either habitat, but streams capable of hosting naturally reproducing trout populations are especially scarce.

It just crossed my mind that it would be a great thing to take a trip to catch smallies in one of the river systems where they're actually native fish, in a state like Kentucky or Wisconsin.

Posted on: 2011/1/16 12:42


Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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Many creeks have good bass pops but only in certain sections.


If you check one areait may be completely devoid of fish but up or downstream you might find a pool that's loaded.


I've also found that to be true of the Potomac.

It seems to me as if bass often have a tendency to school, or at least group up. They are a species of sunfish, after all.

You don't get that with trout. Except maybe with spawning migrations, which is a different phenomenon than a resident population.

When you search out streams for basscheck several areas and do it mainly after about mid July.


Sounds like good advice. That's when I'd be most inclined to do that sort of fishing.

From your comment, it sounds as if bass prefer to build beds and spawn in the larger rivers, and then migrate into tributaries in the summer in search of habitat features like cooler and cleaner water.

In Pa., spawning season would be late April and May, correct? In the places where I fish for them in Maine, it's usually in June.

Posted on: 2011/1/16 12:46


Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?
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Quote:

barbless wrote:

It is sort of amazing to me that this state apparently has more miles of rivers, streams and creeks that host good populations of 12"-21" brown trout than there are miles of stream habitat where 12"-21" smallmouth bass are plentiful. Not that I'm complaining, but it is unusual. Many other states don't have all that much of either habitat, but streams capable of hosting naturally reproducing trout populations are especially scarce.

It just crossed my mind that it would be a great thing to take a trip to catch smallies in one of the river systems where they're actually native fish, in a state like Kentucky or Wisconsin.


Smallmouth bass are, in fact, native to PA. They're just not native to the Susquehanna, Delaware, Potomac watersheds - only the Ohio River watershed (not sure about the Genesee but don't think so).

I'm not sure about your view that PA has more miles of trout water than bass water. I'd wager the reverse is true, partly because you see more overlap of bass into trout streams than vice versa, moreover much of our Approved Trout waters are in reality better suited for bass after about mid June.

The spawning situation in small creeks is odd. Here in SC PA bass start cutting redds usually around the end of April (they were earlier last year) and most actual spawning takes place in May, and males stay on the nests usually into late May/early June. In actual small creeks, I do see some spawning but think that most probably occurs down in the rivers. It depends on the size of the creek/river.

Finally, keep in mind that SMBs are generally slower growing fish than brown trout and attain generally smaller sizes, particularly when compared to browns in fertile streams.

Posted on: 2011/1/16 13:57


Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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From Patterson twp, Pa (Beaver Falls)
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Here's a nice pic to keep your mouth watering until Mid July. Caught her in a stream that is probably 8-10ft accross... a trib of a big river here in Western PA. Def not the norm, but I've caught a decent amount of smaller SMB in the stream too.


Just a MASSIVE fish.... yes that's a 5wt. There was about an inch gap between my thumb and pointer when I grabbed her around the tail.

Attach file:



jpg  best fish to date resize.JPG (813.56 KB)
227_4d348c5628ea2.jpg 2560X1920 px

Posted on: 2011/1/17 13:38
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Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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I looked all summer for that fish. Nice job! I couldn't seem to break over 16".

Posted on: 2011/1/17 22:07


Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?
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Quote:

sholgate wrote:
I looked all summer for that fish. Nice job! I couldn't seem to break over 16".


A sixteen inch smallie from a small stream is a mighty nice fish and bigger than any bass I caught from small streams last year.

Posted on: 2011/1/18 8:55


Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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Barbless,

I have had some great days on the Monocacy. I used to live down that way. It is a beautiful river, easy to wade, and you can get a great mixed bag of fish species including some monster carp on the fly. In my experience down there the smallie fishing is great for number of fish but not a ton of big ones.

Posted on: 2011/1/18 12:28
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Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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Connieduguienet all the way.

Posted on: 2011/1/21 22:01
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Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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At its deepest it is 5 ft. i know of a good spot were every fish i catch is at least two pounds. Not to mention the carp are hug in there and nail zug bugs

Posted on: 2011/1/21 22:03
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Re: Tributary and "Small Stream" Smallmouth Waters?

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From West Lawn, PA
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Quote:

Fishidiot wrote:
Quote:

sholgate wrote:
I looked all summer for that fish. Nice job! I couldn't seem to break over 16".


A sixteen inch smallie from a small stream is a mighty nice fish and bigger than any bass I caught from small streams last year.


It wasn't a small stream, it was from the Lehigh River but even with bigger water I had a tough time finding small mouth over 12". I wasn't sure if it was because of my skill level, where I was fishing, or if they were just tough to find. Anywho, that picture is impressive.

Posted on: 2011/1/27 15:49



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