From Mid-May through Mid-August, I will be offering river smallmouth bass float trips in Western NC, East TN, and Southwest Virginia. I have spent many years fishing with some of the best smallmouth guides in the mountains and am proud to be affiliated with my friends at Elk Creek Outfitters in Boone, NC during the summer months. I’ll be guiding their guests on summer float trips as well as taking my own guests when not working with them.
I began my mountain fishing experiences as a trout fisherman, mostly exploring small mountain streams for wild rainbows, browns, and brook trout. Once I discovered river smallmouth fishing, I was addicted. Float fishing for smallmouth combines the experience and scenery of floating down a clear river with all the benefits of bass fishing. “Smallies” are hard fighting, often very aggressive scrappy fish. Their growth rate is slow, so larger fish are very old. A 20″ smallmouth might be a 20 year old fish. Two decades is a long time living in a river and surviving many droughts, floods, and other dramatic changes in their habitat. The pinnacle of river smallmouth fishing is catching them on topwater flies such as poppers and terrestrials and topwater lures on spinning gear; however, the fish aren’t always looking up, so streamers and subsurface baits on spinning gear can often be the best tool for the day.
For river float fishing in the summer, we utilize a two-raft system. Rafts are the most versatile fishing crafts on mountain rivers, as they are best at accessing the best smallmouth habitat, which is often rock gardens, ledges, and up to Class III rapids. We have one full size 14′ raft with a fishing frame, rower’s seat, and 2 anglers’ seats in the front and back, each with lean bars for stable fishing while standing. The other raft is a smaller 3 person raft, much narrower and lighter than the full size raft. In the mid to late summer, the base flow in the rivers is often much lower due to less cumulative precipitation. The smaller raft enables us to take advantage of lower late summer flows, more concentrated fish, and more remote, less pressured water with more limited access.
To be most versatile in changing flow conditions throughout the summer, we river multiple rivers across Western NC, East TN, and Southwest Virginia. Some of those include well known fisheries such as the French Broad, Nolichucky, and New Rivers. Other rivers are less talked about, and we intend to keep it that way. You’ll just have to come find out for yourself. Multi-boat trips for groups larger than two can be arranged.