After finding some fish our first 2 days, we had really dialed in where we wanted to target these fish. There is a stretch of river we fish, that holds really clean and cold water and in the hotter months, the smallmouth flock to it. They love the higher oxygen concentration that this river system provides. Since the fish we were finding were deeper, we decided to fish a lower stretch of the river and put in where we generally take the boat out.
From the map images, this river dumps into a lake without a lot of froggy backwater. Perfect for what we were looking for. Deeper, moving water that was close to a big water source.
It goes to show how many amazing options there are to fish in this area as I grew up about 30 minutes from here and had never fished this stretch.
We launched the boats at the put-in and went to run our shuttle (there are no shuttle services where we were so we self-shuttled with our trucks). As we were shuttling, we stumbled on a local Tennessee Distillery. And as you probably guessed, we made a quick pit stop to make sure that the local whiskey was up to par. That “quick” taste test turned into a purchase (of course), and now we were fueled up for the day.
We launched the boats and within 100 yards of the boat ramp, we were hooked up on fish. This trend continued throughout the day as we found fish after fish in all the good-looking holes.
Using heavy sink tips and heavy streamers, we were able to get our flies down quickly which was the ticket for the day. Most of our fish came off of deep tail outs and eddies in and around fallen wood structures. We even managed to land a solid double-up towards the end of the day.
With it being a bit darker of a day, we found the fish keying in on darker colors such as olive and brown. We even switched to some olive patterns, that don’t usually leave our box, and they did the trick. It was a great example of the importance of switching up your flies and getting weird sometimes because you never know what pattern is gonna be the one.
The next day, we fished a section closer to home (Huntsville, AL). This is a river that Stephen and I grew up on and have had some of our absolute best days of fishing on. We haven’t fished it much in recent years so we thought it would be fun to go check out. The only downside to this stretch is that it is a heavily privatized area so take-out access can be challenging. Fortunately, my parents know a farmer who lets us take our boat out on his land. His only criteria: no big trucks at the takeout because it messes up his land. So, we decided to use our Polaris ATV as our takeout mobile.
Although the float was very scenic, the fish were not there. A broken rod, some empty coronas, and 2 decent largemouth bass were all we had to show for the day.
We were worried that this was gonna be the case. Over the last 5 years, kayakers and tubers have taken over this stretch leading to more trash in the river and slower fishing. It’s sad to see this because just 10 years ago, we wouldn’t have seen a single soul on the river and the fishing would have been on fire.
Once off the water, we took off to spend the night at my family’s lake house, which would be close to our fishing spot for our final day. We grilled some food, made some red beers, and fired up the mics to record an episode of the Wild Fly Podcast.
It was a super fun conversation with all of the boys and we got to share some of our smallmouth knowledge in long-form. If you want to check out the full episode, visit the Wild Fly Podcast page.
With it being our last day, we wanted to end the trip on a bang and switch things up a little bit. We had fished out of the boats every day so far, so we thought it would be fun to spend a day targeting bass on foot. I knew of the perfect spot and it’s a spot that doesn’t look like anything else in Alabama.
I had been here a handful of times but never this early in the year. I made it very clear to the boys that they needed to pack light and “waterproof” their packs.
We hiked in a little ways and started fishing. I quickly displayed why they needed to “waterproof” their packs as I demonstrated how we were gonna be crossing the river. We were gonna be swimming not wading.
Most people who come here, just fish the side of the river that the trail is on. And because of this, the other side gets little to no pressure. This is exactly why we swim across. Just like anything in fly fishing, the further you get off the beaten path, the better the fishing is gonna be.
We enjoyed our last day together and found some beautiful, hard-fighting spotted bass. It wasn’t a banger day of fishing but a solid one to close out the trip. The landscape here was incredible and I had a lot of fun seeing the boys get on fish.
Throughout the week, there was a common lesson that was reinforced. A lesson that each fish you catch is a puzzle piece that’s helping you build a much larger story. I’ve found that folks who consistently catch fish are able to answer the question “Why?” Why are we on this river, this stretch, this area? Why are we using this technique, this fly, this retrieve, at this depth? Knowing why you are fishing the way you are fishing will make you a much better angler and learning something from each fish you catch throughout the day will make you much more successful.
We hope that Backyard Bronze inspired you to try something you haven’t tried before. Whether it’s a new stretch of water, targeting a new species, or trying a new beverage. The Deep South doesn’t get the credit it deserves, in fly fishing, but neither do many other places across the country. Just because you’re hometown isn’t a fishing destination doesn’t mean that your fishing won’t be good! Get out there, find some fish, utilize your local resources, and crack something open with your buddies.
Check out the Behind the Scenes of Episode 1 Below: