When Will Smallmouth Bass Fishing Start?

When Will Smallmouth Bass Fishing Start?

The winter steelhead fishing has continued to be good/great when the rivers are in shape, but these random days where the temps reach the upper 50’s or or even low 60’s has everyone at the shop chomping at the bit to start chasing Smallmouth.

Since the majority of our rivers are a lot deeper than your standard Smallmouth watersheds, especially the Willamette and Columbia, our Bass season tends to come online a little later than most. Still, I’ve seen reports since early February where the gear fishermen are having some terrific days. It does help that they can fish in that 20-30’ water column. Not very attainable for the average fly fishermen.

But have no fear, all that will all change when water temps start climbing into that 50 degree window. Smallmouth will start to follow the main river channel like a map looking for those spots that swing close to shore. This allows them to start putting the feed bag on while maintaining a close distance to future spawning areas. Pre spawn can really be something. The water is usually a little higher and off color which allows us to throw some pretty big bugs in flashy colors. Not a real match the hatch time of year. Big and bright is what gets eaten during this period. You also have a shot at landing your personal best bass this time of the year. They throw caution to the wind and try and pack on the pounds as quickly as they can.

Here are a few patterns we like to throw at this time of the year, and the setups we prefer.


Bass Flies

Swinging D Smallmouth Bass Fly

Swinging D

Fleein Cray

Leggy Boi




GLoomis NRX+ SF (Swim Fly) 7 or 8Wt

Redington Predator


Any 7+ Size. We almost always strip the min.


SA Full Intermediate for early season

SA Tropical Titan Clear Tip when it warms up


*7’ terminating at 16lb flouro


Eric Leininger

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