Will Rollins, of Vienna, Missouri, has spent his entire life in that little central Missouri hill town. Much of his time, however, he spent happily chasing smallmouth bass on the nearby Gasconade River, one of the top smallmouth bass streams in the Ozarks. And nobody knows smallmouth better than Rollins.
“I fish for smallies all year round,” Rollins stated. “However, early spring is one of the times when I catch some of my biggest fish of the year.”
Bass season on Missouri’s streams does not begin until late May, but anglers can still ply the waters for catch and release fishing, which most smallmouth fishermen practice anyway, according to Rollins.
When the water temperature approaches 60 degrees, Rollins begins to fish spots where current and dead water meet on points. On a recent cloudy afternoon, Rollins caught several of the largest smallmouth he expects to catch all year, several approaching 5 pounds.
“The water was semi-dirty,” Rollins said. “Visibility was about three feet. The river level was up a little bit, after recent rains. I like that. It helps to keep fish in the pockets.”
Rollins only fished for a short window from from 3 to 6 p.m. on a cloudy, overcast afternoon. “I hit it just right,” he said. “I fished places I had worked only a few days before, expecting to get bit. The conditions were not quite right yet, so I returned a few days later when the water temperature was up a little. The cloudy conditions helped as well.”
Rollins also tossed a Reaction 3.5-inch Smallie Beaver in green pumpkin with great success.
Rollins always keeps several rods rigged with a variety of baits for any conditions which he might encounter on the Gasconade. His third rod had a Bomber Model A crawdad colored crankbait tied on. It produced fish as well.
“I expect the next few weeks to be very good on the Gasconade,” Rollins related. “We have been getting a lot of rain. Once the river stabilizes a bit, the bite will start all over again. And when it clears up, we can begin sight fishing for big smallies on the spawning beds. It just doesn’t get any more fun than that.”
Rollins works part time at Vienna Marine LLC and guides on the Gasconade River. He can be reached at 573-619-4366573-619-4366.