Smallies will be the ticket

Anglers who are accustomed to fishing for largemouth bass will have to alter their strategy on the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Green River, Wyo., at the 2012 Cabela’s Bassmaster Federation Nation Western Divisional, May 30-June 1; the reservoir is strictly a smallmouth fishery.

The lake is loaded with quality smallmouth in the 15- to 16-inch range with 20-inch fish commonly caught, according to Craig Amadio, regional fisheries biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“Our smallmouth fishery is pretty remarkable because we are on the fringe of the range that can support smallmouth,” said Amadio. “When you look at our water temperatures throughout the course of the year, it is pretty amazing that smallmouth can do as well as they do at Flaming Gorge.”

Amadio predicts smallmouth will be in the prespawn stage during the divisional. The fish will be staging in depths of 10 to 30 feet along points adjacent to the spawning bays. The most productive lures will be finesse and football jigs with plastic crawfish trailers, curled-tail plastic grubs and crankbaits. The biologist noted that the best lure colors mimic the hues of crawfish (brown and orange) or burbot (dark green and brown).

The late May/early June climate at Flaming Gorge can be “extremely variable,” said Amadio, so he suggests Western Divisional competitors should pack for any weather condition.

“A day in Wyoming then can be sunny and gorgeous, or the wind can be blowing 80 mph and it can be raining.”

Lake Facts

  • Forage base — crawfish, chubs, white suckers, carp and burbot
  • Surface acreage — 42,020 acres
  • Average depth — 212 feet
  • Expected water clarity — 8 to 10 feet
  • Dominant structure/cover — rock, inundated tamaracks and willows
  • Predicted winning weight — 47 pounds