Around the first of April anglers always have to be aware that no matter the weather smallmouth bass are certain to be coming up like daffodils in springtime! They annually begin a quest toward their spawning areas from the dark deep holes that once kept them far from the wintery cold, and safe from most anglers hooks. Moreover, once they begin this journey there is no turning back, and their appetite is like a swarm of bees around a honey jar.
by Dennis Udlinek
A few years ago I was blessed to be invited on an impromptu outing to such a Mecca for bass fishing. Brownlee Reservoir has long been one of Idaho's most productive bodies of water for not only smallmouth, but crappie, catfish, and trout. It's the kind of place where you never really know what you might catch on any given cast, and there all always plenty of delightful surprises in store during early spring.
My good fishin' buddy Don couldn't help dragging me off to yet another adventure, especially since he had "sacked" them up the day before. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was going fishing and work could wait! I must admit, even though there was still one more day left in the week, I had to see what all the hubbub was about. I knew that the spring smallmouth fishing could be great on Brownlee, as witnessed by attending a bass tournament weigh-in the week before. There were some big smallmouth weighed, and most everyone caught fish. So what the heck, I grabbed my tackle, a few rods and headed off with my buddy to the lake.
What happened next can only be described as "one of those days, a day to remember, a once in a life time, a," well you get the idea! I can honestly say I have had some great times fishing, especially on Brownlee, but this day turned out to be one for the record books,... at least our record books! We both managed to catch not only some of the nicest, but the most smallmouth we have ever caught in one day,.. any where!
By the time we had put in our day, we had landed and released 91 smallmouth, two perch and one "quick release" channel catfish as big as my leg! My good buddy Don, of course, took home the prize for catching the first fish, the most fish, and well, even the biggest fish. He pulled in a bruiser that tipped the scales at 4.71 pounds, not to mention a few others that were over three and a half pounds a piece! Needless to say, I was feeling a little ticked at first, but after I landed my second three and a half pounder, and later my twenty fifth fish, I began to loosen up!
Don Boeger with a 4.71 lb. & 3.55 lb. smallmouth.
Not just about catching fish
The thing that really set this day aside from the rest was of course some great comradeship, the lucky warm spring weather, and the incredible scenery. While we fished along a favorite stretch of bank we noticed a small herd of deer grazing along on a nearby hillside. They even ventured down across from us for a drink of water and they seemed uninterested in all the hoopin' and hollerin' coming from our boat! Just as I had released my umpsteenth fish, I looked up just in time to see a golden eagle swoop down on a few of the bedding deer. They jumped up and immediately formed a huddle, much like a football team. The eagle recanted its attack and landed in a nearby tree, looking down at his wouldbe prey in some disbelief. It seemed as if he may have perhaps mistaken a "flick of an ear" for a tasty rabbit or ground squirrel, and when the deer jumped he realized he was dealing with a little bigger prey than he had bargained for,.. at least I hope that's what the bird thought. It would be scary to think that a golden eagle could take down a full grown deer!
Lots to think about
We watched as other fisherman around us gave chase and landed their fair share of fish. We also saw families along the shore share our day with enthusiasm as they caught perch and crappie enough to take home for a fish fry. The hills were still speckled with dots of snow as new green grass sprouted all along the side hill ushering in spring. The air was filled with birds singing to their delight that spring had sprung. All this and a "day to remember," one of the best days anyone can have. To be with a best friend, to be immersed in nature and to be surrounded by God's creatures. There are far worse places one could be, and few can compare to Brownlee Reservoir for a little piece of "Smallmouth Heaven!"