You might believe that a little creek isn't good for much other than catching a few dozen minnows for crappie fishing or some crayfish for smallmouth bass. I used to think so too, until I waded a small creek near my home catching bait for next day. Most of the creek was only inches deep, but there were pool here and there that were knee deep and one long pool with a riffle upstream that was hip deep. Could there be smallmouth bass in those pools? I'd caught and released some three- to four-inch bronzebacks in my minnow seine, so maybe there were some bigger ones around. I decided to see.
A couple of days later I was back just past dawn with a little ultralite rod and miniature reel loaded with four pound test line. I had a "tackle box" in my shirt pocket with a couple of eighth ounce white Roostertail spinners, a little Mepps spinner, a BeetleSpin, and a couple of small black jigs rigged with twistertails. I started with a white Roostertail and never got any further. My fishing was done downstream so I would be able to work the spinner very slowly and keep the blade flashing, and started my casting at the first knee deep pool.
Bang! A smallmouth bass flashed out from beneath the undercut bank, slammed into my spinner, and went skyward when he felt the hook. The fish jumped twice more and gave my little rod a nice workout before he came to hand and was released. A very nice eight ounce bass. A few more casts and I caught another, then reached the deeper pool, and took two more just below the riffle. Then I worked the long pool from end to end and caught nine more bass. It was great fun. These stream smallmouths were energetic and angry with high leaps and red eyes gleaming each time.
They averaged 5 to 8 ounces, but fought out of all proportion to their size, and I did catch one "whopper" that would have pulled the scales down to nearly a pound. Stream bass in these small waters don't seem to be large ever, or maybe they head downstream when they reach a certain size, and look for a handy lake. But these little guys were definitely memory makers on light tackle I did the same at a little creek just outside of Dayton, fishing water just inches deep with pools, and caught six bass with the same gear. And since then I've tried other small streams and larger ones like the Sandusky River near its headwaters, the Huron, Vermillion and Ohio Brush Creek. I suspect that the little stream near your home, wherever you live, would have some hungry bass, too. They'll be unsophisticated, probably, having never seen a lure, but fine fighters. All you need is a pair of shorts, old tennis shoes and light weight gear. Little enough for a good mornings fishing.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at email@example.com. You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.
HOOKS & BULLETS
• Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and ODNR Director Mary Mertz recently dedicated the purchase of 118 acres adjacent to the Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve in Marblehead. "Adding over 100 aces to this state nature preserve will help protect an estimated 700,000 Lakeside Daisy plants" Governor deWine said. "This is an investment in Ohio's public lands not only for us today, but for future generations as well." What are Lakeside Daisies? I visited them during a brief open house some years ago, and found them to be amazing little plants. They seem to grow out of solid rock, tough little flowers indeed.
• Visitors to Lake Erie this spring will find that the big lake has gotten even bigger with water levels at near record highs. The reason is obvious - huge amounts of rainfall this spring that has raised the lake 2.5 feet above the long term average for the month of May. High water levels increase the chance of flooding in low-lying areas, and might cause catastrophic coastal erosion during severe storm events.
• Festivals can be fun events for weekend entertainment, and there are plenty coming up in future weeks. According to TourismOhio well over a dozen will be held around the state this summer, among them a Summer Moon Festival at Wapakoneta on July 18 through 21, a Toledo Lighthouse Waterfront Festival on July 6 and 7, the Cleveland Tall Ships Festival on July 11 through 14, and the Shawshank Redemption 25th Anniversary Celebration in Mansfield on August 16 through 28. For a full list of these summer events, visit Ohio.org.