stream fishing

How to Fish Public Streams for Bronzebacks With Ultra-Light Gear

You can't go wrong with this method.

I'm not a professional angler, but I have plenty of experience fishing for bronzebacks in my local lakes and streams. Since using ultra-light gear is my go-to approach for landing smallmouths, picking the right tackle is key.

While the rod I use is a 20-year-old Daiwa MiniCast, I use a newer TinyLite spincast reel. But, what probably matters most is where the rubber hits the road: the line.

One of my go-to lines is the Berkley FireLine Crystal, but after following a suggestion, I decided to try the PowerPro Braided Spectra.

A 150-yard spool of 20-pound-test line was perfect, even though that little reel only holds about 70 yards of it.

Getting started

This where I started, but this video does show how stealthy I had to be to fool these wary, pre-spawn fish. Throughout the only day I only used one lure: a Rapala jointed minnow, which I fondly still call a J-7.

Find a spot, work it

This second area had a lot of downed timber in it, requiring some accurate casting. Even with the flow of the creek coming at me it was still paramount to walk slow and make precise casts.

Patience pays off

Again, just relax after releasing a fish and begin to cast at the same area. You'll see a fish jetting out from under the downed logs and attacking the lure in a different, but close-by spot.

Smallmouth bass are great teachers

This spot is a steelhead holding area in March, but smallies will hold up in the back half of the hole when staging for the spawn. The best part of this one is my reaction to being owned by a nice fish that took a few casts to entice.

Sometimes the bigger fish strike second

I caught several other fish, which you can see on my YouTube channel, but this may have been the biggest. Between the weight of the fish, the fight and the current, that little ultra-light system came through with flying colors!

The slow water next to the flow pays off

Even under the bridges, the fish were staging. Easy casts into the backwater was the order of the day.

I try to be stealthy, quiet and accurate with my casting. If you go too quickly, the waves you put out in front of you will spook the fish every time. It's imperative to walk upstream so that you come up behind most of the fish who face into the flow.

Even with shorter casts, accuracy is everything. Put one onto the bank or in a tree, and you'll have to go get it, spoiling the spot.

With the floating jointed minnow, I always let it hit the water and gently begin to flick it it, getting it to send out the movement of a wounded bait fish. I then only reel after enough casts tell me there isn't an aggressive fish in the spot.

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