They say that the “The Third Time is the Charm”, but maybe it is the ‘Fourth Time is the Charm” when it comes to down to guiding Robert for trophy smallmouth. I will get to that in a moment. I usually make mention of the generation schedule at Douglas Dam in my reports because it dictates when and where I am going to fish on the French Broad River.Today, TVA ran two or more generators at 9:00 am which gave us about a four hour window to fish the French Broad with very little generation. The water was stained in the stretch of river we targeted this morning, but not enough to hurt the bite. In fact, under certain conditions I like a little stain on the water. I think it can enhance the bite at times. Our first stop was in area with some fast moving water that I call “The Rapids”. Robert picked up three smallies there that fought extremely hard because of the increased current. My next move was to one of my favorite honey holes where I was confident that he would pick up some nice fish. All we heard were crickets chirping (that’s if crickets could chirp under water). Zero, nada, nothing, after working that spot over with a fine-tooth comb. Not even a single starving white bass that should be in there by the dozens at this time of the year. By now the rising water from Douglas Dam had caught up with us so I decided to make a move and go to a spot that has been fishing well over the past several weeks with the increased current. Robert managed to catch a couple of sixteen inch smallies and an eight pound channel cat as the hot June sun bore down on us. One thing that had not happened on our three previous trips is that he had yet to catch a trophy smallie that was twenty inches or longer. He came close a couple of times, but couldn’t quite get there. He was fishing in about three feet of water over a grass bed in strong current with what was now a deceased shiner. The shiner was straight downstream from the boat and because of the fast current and it being dead it was spinning like a top at the surface of the water. Not the right kind of presentation that I would consider even the most malnourished smallie would give a second glance. Robert slowly started reeling in the shiner as it skidded across the top when all of the sudden the water exploded under the shiner. It wasn’t one of those soft takes that we see where they suck in the bait leaving the telltale swirl. This fish meant business. For the first couple of minutes I wasn’t even sure it was a smallmouth. There had been some hybrids in the area so I thought that was what we were dealing with. But as the fight went on Robert said he was sure it was a smallie. As the fish tired after several drag burning runs and as it neared the boat and showed itself he was indeed right. It was a big smallmouth. Once the  fish was finally safely in the boat and in the midst of a lot of whooping and hollering from both of us I laid her along  my “Golden Rule Measuring Board”. This beautiful smallie came in at 21 ½ in. Robert has fished hard on every one of his trips and I could not be happier for him. He was past due for a fish that size. I guess “The Fourth Time is the Charm” when it comes to guiding Robert for trophy smallmouth on the French Broad River.