Re: Itty Bitty alpine smallies, need help
Umm...unless the fish have just been stocked, if there are little ones there are going to be bigger ones. You can have fun with the little ones with all manner of smaller flies, but I know I'd put on something a little bigger and see if I could find some bigger fish.
4-8 inch smallmouth are aggressive fish. If they are up that close to the bank and that shallow, they will almost certainly hit a small panfish sized popper, and watching them do so will be a lot more fun than fishing something on or near the bottom. The popper should also get you some sunfish.
As for shredded thumbs and landing bass by hand, just put some athletic tape on your thumb and it should solve the problem. And mash the barbs on the hooks of whatever fly you use, and make sure they are mashed flat. That way, if you do end up getting a hook into your anatomy, it will come out easily. And learn the trick of removing hooks with a piece of line. You can remove hooks from most areas of your body quickly, easily, and without a trip to the emergency room. I've removed hooks (with barbs) from my own thumb, calf, and big toe, and have removed them from my wife's elbow and another guy's forearm. The guy, by the way, had a big two treble hook lure stuck in his forearm and was going to go to the emergency room to have it removed. I told him I could get it out easily, just sit down and look the other way. I clipped the split ring holding the hook to the lure with a pair of side-cutters (they should be in your gear bag at all times) and removed my shoelace to use to get it out of his arm. He was watching as he sat at a picnic table, and suddenly he passed out just from the stress and squeamishness of seeing this big hook stuck in his arm. His head came down on the table just as I flipped the hook out of his arm. He awoke a second or two later, and told me that he was going to have to go to the emergency room; he didn't think he could stand to let me try to get the hook out. I just told him to look at his arm.