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Warmest Regards in a Cold Season

By Matt Rinehardt

As many that know me, know how passionate I am about smallmouth bass, particularly

smallmouth bass on the fly. These fish have risen to the top of my favorites list rather quickly

and I have spent countless hours chasing and learning their patterns from month to month.

As anglers, we tend to find a niche that we enjoy and I feel I have found that in smallmouth bass.

Highly regarded as the hardest pound-for-

pound fighting fish in fresh water, smallmouth have

made their mark in the fishing community. Smallmouth are often thought of as a northern fish

species though and regularly overlooked here in the south. Their native range spans as far

south as northern Alabama and obviously back north all the way in to Canada with the western

most part of North Carolina included in that range. This gives us a unique opportunity here in

WNC to target a very worthy advisory on the fly for those willing to put in the work. Unlike our

northern neighbors we here in Western North Carolina do not have to deal too much with

freeze ups that limit our ability to fish for smallies. Smallmouth are not as active in the colder

months but can be caught. Their spawning times usually hit western NC around late April

through May when water temps hit and hold around 60 degrees.

Personally I like to target smallmouth with streamers using larger rod setups such as a 6wt or

7wt. Typically I’m fishing from a float raft, but wading opportunities for smallies are out there. I

have found that sinking lines prove more effective in the colder months, getting those big

streamers down deep where these smallies are typically congregated in the colder months.

Spring and summer tactics change a bit and I will typically abandon the sinking lines for a

traditional floating line slinging the same big streamers or the ever so fun top water popper. Last

year I made a point to fish all twelve months of the year specifically targeting smallmouth on the

fly, and I am happy to say I achieved that goal!

In short if you have the chance or the drive to do something different, I highly recommend giving

smallmouth a shot. As always we here to help at Tuckaseegee Fly Shop, stop by one of our

three locations, give us a call in the shop, or reach out to me personally via email at I am always excited to talk fishing!


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