Big Smallmouth love hot weather.
It's July and August and about the last thing on the priority list for most folks is a day in the sun float fishing a river. I want to give you a short list of reasons why I miss very few days float fishing in the 100 degree temperatures of July and August. From my 2012 log: On July 6th, Kendall lands a 19 inch Smallmouth, on the 7th, I land one. On the 25th, Rich lands 2, 18's and on the 31st we both land 19's. On August 2nd I land an 18 and four days later Ryan lands an 18. On the 24th Seth lands a 21 and five days later both Jerry and John land 19's. For the sake of simplicity, I don't even attempt to note anything under an 18 inch Smallmouth as I would spend too much time doing something other then fishing and guiding. In that stretch, six Largemouth over twenty inches were also landed. Need I say more? Yes, it is hot and it can be boiling hot at times------I'm talking about the fishing. As far as the temperatures are concerned, I seldom notice, honest! Part of the reason is that I was floating the rivers back in January and I haven't stopped. Secondly, if you start a float trip shortly after daylight in August you can acclimate as the temperatures increase. Having a "dew rag" that can be frequently dipped in the stream doesn't hurt and always keep plenty of drinking water on hand. I'm not above stripping down and spending a few minutes with nothing but my nose out of the water if I really want to cool off. But, I won't be in the water cooling off for long. I've learned a lot over the years about float fishing our Ozark streams. One thing I've experienced is that you can take-to-the-bank is that fishing on streams is best in the hottest part of the day. "Whoa" you say, "I know better as all I've ever read says otherwise". Well, I've been doing this for well over fifty years and it's my story to tell. What you've been reading is nonsense! I can only guess at the number of fish that I've caught on our float streams. I can tell you that I have fished a couple hundred of them from Texarkana to St. Louis and many of them countless times from one end to the other. It's been my experience that the best of the fishing has always been right in the middle of the day, time after time. Certainly I've caught fish early in the morning, late in the afternoon and even at night. Give me the option though in July and August and I'll be there from one to three in the afternoon for the very best chance to land a trophy Smallmouth. If you look into what the experts say about what it takes to make a big Smallmouth, you will find that the standard rule of thumb is that it takes about ten years for a stream-bred Smallmouth to reach 18 inches in length. That's a "trophy" by the standards of our conservation departments. I can't say that I can argue with the "facts" of countless hours of scientific study by dedicated biologists. I've caught a couple of Smallmouh on streams that were 22 inches in length. How old were they? My son had one on for about 30 seconds a few years back that I believe would have gone 24 inches in length. How old was that one? I think the better question is how many times has it been caught and released? I have fished in about every way that you can imagine these hills of ours, every lake you can name and a few you can not, farm ponds, bayou's and the list continues. However, give me the choice and I'll say the very best of fishing is to have a big Smallmouth fighting me tooth and nail, on some remote stretch of clear water, in plain sight, right under my canoe. Even if it's only a 14 inch fish I will marvel at it's strength, it's beauty and when it goes airborne as much as two and three feet in it's attempt to throw my lure, I can only marvel. That recipe only multiplies if it's a 16 inch fish. If it's an 18 I lean toward wanting to do emotional cartwheels. What then, when it's a twenty or a twenty-two? Trust me, the image of that 24 incher that my son lost, clearing water within a few feet of the canoe, is indelibly itched in my mind. My son's comment at the time? "Did you see that Smallmouth?!" No doubt, his mental image is just as vivid as mine. Yes, this monster Smallmouth hit Ryan's Zara Spook right in the middle of the day, on the last day of August. I know the exact rock she was under and I may be there this year to see if the old girl just might still be alive!