Natural Bridge smallmouth trip

I just returned from a fantastic weekend of flyfishing for smallmouth bass on the James and Maury rivers in the Natural Bridge, VA vicinity. It wasn’t a bassclave, but my buddy Sam and I have convened on Natural Bridge Station to chase bronzebacks. Friday 7/20 we drove from NC to VA. Arrived at the Maury River about noon. A bit of color from heavy rain Thursday night but it looked fishable. Went to River Road and rigged the pontoons and rods. Shuttled the pickup (I brought my bike to facilitate) and hit the river. Started slow, but picked up when I switched to a yellow legged Tequeely that Sam tied. Caught a couple bass, sunnies, and redeyes in a flat stretch. Then, I found a fast run where the river splits around an island. Sam went one way, me the other. Missed a couple, but it looked promising. Got out of the boat and started catching bass on virtually every cast. I’d still be there but figured Sam would wonder where I was 😉

All told, I caught about 25 bass including this 13 incher:

Maury River smallmouth

Sam had the fish of the day on his line, about a 4 pounder that threw the hook after a couple of jumps.

Saturday 7/21, we floated float the Saltpetre to Horseshoe Bend/Narrow Passage section of the James. CSX has put up a barricade on the river side at Saltpetre making it more difficult to get the boats to the river. However, the work was was worth it!

Here’s a shot of Sam working a promising spot:

Sam casting

Tried a few different flies but settled quickly on the Tequeely again. The James was crystal clear and the yellow legs of the Tequeely pulsed on the retrieve. I got hot early and was catching fish fast, bass and redeyes. We stopped for lunch at the old train bridge abutments. It was interesting as we looked up and saw two of the biggest sycamore trees I’ve ever seen, each looking to be 7 to 8 feet in diameter. Fascinating to think how long they’ve been there. We finished our lunch, and I caught a half dozen bass in a riffle just a few feet away from our stop. Caught two more as I floated through the same riffle on the boat. After a while, I cooled off and Sam started catching ’em. However, we caught fish all day, one or the other of us.

My best was 15″ fish:

James River Smallmouth

I also landed several 11-13″ fish. Sam caught a 15″ fish in the last riffle above Narrow Passage that towed him at least 50 yards down the riffle. He also caught many 11-13″ fish. Each of us boated 40 or so bass and that many redeyes as well.

A helluva good bass fishing weekend!

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