James and I have been wanting to hit the Elkhorn this year and this Friday was the day we could both go. The USGS site showed higher and faster water than what I wanted, but it was doable. Now for the weather forecast. They were calling for thunderstorms throughout the day. We didn’t care, WE WANTED TO FISH!!!!
We left Cincinnati at 7am and enjoyed our drive through the beautiful Kentucky countryside. As we pulled up to our secret fishing spot on the Elkhorn, I could see the water was moving. Oh well, let’s get our gear together and see what happens. James was throwing a Scott Tidal 9′ #7 and I was throwing a Winston fast-action boron #6. We both were throwing RIO Striper leaders with Big Nasty tippet. We entered the stream and took our time working our way around some small islands trying to find areas to cross that looked somewhat safe. The current was really pushing.
We finally got to some water that we liked the look of and stared to swing the trusty D&H Bugger. Within a few casts I had a nice smallie attack my Bugger and his strength coupled with the fast moving current game me a “bend the rod over” fight. It didn’t take long to get him on the reel and I was have summer fun on a local stream.
James worked his way around some islands and found a back channel that was cookin’ with current and started to work his Bugger through the current. It was small, fast water that reminded us of fishing the Smoky Mountains.
James picked up two smallmouth in this run and then we moved over to a big, fast, long riffle section. We gingerly moved into the riffle and started to target the pockets of slack water and anything that looked dark (like a rock). The visibility was not great as the water was coming down from a spike of about 1400cfs; we were fishing it at 560cfs. This is not prime conditions, but remember WE WANTED TO FISH!
Enough smallmouth were caught in this run to satisfy us, but the water and the fish locations were definitely different than when the water is lower and more channelized. My “for sure, never miss, secret spot that holds four big smallies” did nothing for us, but other areas did. Lots of swinging streamers over big areas to cover lots of water worked for us.
Time for lunch and then fish some other favorite spots. Oh wait, on the way to lunch James thought he should revisit his side channel and he picked up three more smallies.
The afternoon we switched flies, had some action and then both switched back to the D&H Bugger. I did catch one on a Dixie Devil, but I knew it was a streamer day. We got hit by a big, quick downpour that did not stop us. The last spot of the day was a big, wide riffle and once again the fish were not where they should have been…but swinging the Bugger through big sections of water worked and James found some big boulders that were holding fish that we could not see from upstream. The sky cleared and we ended the day with beautiful blues skies after clouds and a bit of rain.