Late Summer Smallies in East
Late last summer, I was able
to spend a weekend in East Tennessee and fish two very different rivers for
smallies. Larry McDavid took me out on the Holston in his jet boat the first
day, and MJPrice, Basshunter360, and Scott were my hosts on the Pigeon River
the next day. I can't say enough about the hospitality these TRFers showed
this Georgia boy, and MJPrice (and his then-fiance) even fed me a steak and
put me up for the night! I learned a ton about smallmouth fishing from these
guys and really appreciate their willingness to help a novice learn. Now on
with the pictures!
On Saturday morning, Larry and I arrived at
the Holston to find the river higher than normal and covered with dense fog.
The fog prohibited us from safely navigating the river in his jet boat, so
we fished around the ramp until it lifted. We threw spinnerbaits, crankbaits,
and tubes without a nibble.
Then Larry started getting a few nibbles. In
places, the Holston appears flat and featureless. I just figured we'd fish
the banks, but Larry kept casting to the middle of the river with tube jigs.
I thought he was crazy, but then again, I don't know much about smallmouth
fishing! After a couple of these, I switched to a tube, despite the fact
that I'd never even used one before.
Once the fog lifted, we were able to let the
jet unwind and motor up and down the river. This was my first time in a jet
boat, and this picture doesn't do justice to the experience. There were
moments when I could have reached down and touched the river bottom as we
zoomed through a shallow spot. Six Flags doesn't have any rides this fun!
This still doesn't do the experience
justice, but should give you an idea about how fast we were moving!
Well, by this time Larry had caught a few fish
and I was sitting there casting a tube out into the middle of the river.
Needless to say, I was fishing outside my comfort zone and Larry probably
thought I was a complete idiot the way my hat was sitting on my head. Well,
Larry's advice and expertise paid off with my biggest smallie ever! As it
turns out Larry knows the Holston like the back of his hand, and the
mid-river hole we were fishing had produced well for him in the past.
The shoals in the Holston were covered up in
some type of aquatic vegetation. Whatever this stuff is, I'm sure it helps
the river's food supply.
Larry and I took out at
about 3 PM, but Larry told me about a place where I could kill a couple
hours wading. I fished hard with the tube for a couple hours with only a
small fish to show for my efforts and then I had my arm almost ripped from
it's socket by a smallie only about 10 feet away. It was all I could do to
hold onto my rod. Unfortunately, my line broke a couple seconds later, but
not before I saw the outline of a huge smallie about two rod lengths away.
Well, with a new
personal-best smallmouth and a one-that-got-away story, I headed west to
spend the night. MJPrice and I met up with Scott and Basshunter360 early the
next day to float the Pigeon.
Both Scott and BH360 float rivers in these
tricked-out Coleman Crawdads. Coleman doesn't make them anymore, so if you
have one you'd like to sell I'm sure they'll make you an offer!
Here's Scott with a decent smallie. Scott
caught some much larger fish on his big, black chugger bait, but I wasn't
close enough to get pictures. Scott is also a Georgia Bulldogs fan, which
makes him an even better human being than he is a fisherman.
Here's me with a nice smallie. I caught fish
on a lot of different lures, but the most effective was probably a 3-inch
curlytail grub reeled slowly and steadily just off the bottom. I almost
never fish grubs, and MJ kindly gave me some grubs and jigheads and told me
what to do.
The walleye loved the grub, too! We don't
really have walleye in our rivers down in Georgia, so catching a few was
We also caught a couple huge bream like this
Stopping for some lunch.
I can't say enough about this guy. BH360
paddled me up and down the river all day long. I don't think I even touched
my paddle! And, he outfished me at least two-to-one! BH360 caught this big
smallie on a finesse worm, and he really has that down to a science. MJ and
Todd both caught smallies about the same size, too!
Of course, why fish for smallmouth when big
white bass are biting?
And fat largemouths, too!
When it was all said and
done, we had a fantastic day on the river with good numbers and a few big
ones, too! We also caught a variety of fish to spice things up a bit. These
guys also helped me with an overheating truck and I was able to make it back
to Georgia safely. I'd like to say thanks again to these great TRFers for
showing me a great weekend of Tennessee River Fishing!