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Old 03-21-2013, 04:46 PM
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Default Re: Winter Smallmouth

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Originally Posted by leftys brother View Post
How,early,cold,fast,deep?
It depends where you live, what,s the lattitude. Up here the bite usualy doesnt start untill late April and early May if we have a cold April. Then in May they pair up and your fishing orver reds/beds. I know lefty he served with my Father In law during WW2. You must be righty.


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Old 03-21-2013, 05:26 PM
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Default Re: Winter Smallmouth

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Originally Posted by bugslinger View Post
It depends where you live, what,s the lattitude. Up here the bite usualy doesnt start untill late April and early May if we have a cold April. Then in May they pair up and your fishing orver reds/beds. I know lefty he served with my Father In law during WW2. You must be righty.


Charlie
I did not know Lefty was a Vet. My admiration grows!
Actually my other brother is righty I'm ambi.
J

---------- Post added at 06:26 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:16 PM ----------

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Originally Posted by streamwalker View Post
Most of the time when I'm bass fishing in the winter I don't use a fly rod I know don't hate me. But I don't have a setup for it. Because wintertime bass fishing is Slowwwww!! An deep!! Most of the time I throw a senko worm In 20 feet of water where I know cover is and let it sit for 30 seconds even a minute then barely twitch it and do the same thing over and over covering water very slowly.
Thanks Streamwalker!
I had to google a senko worm. I had never heard of them. Your post lets me know that I am fishing to fast even tho I thought I was fishing slow. Problem has been that with variable water depth and water moving fishing clousers or similiar I am hung under rock by the time I think I should move. This is going to be challenging.
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Old 03-21-2013, 06:04 PM
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Default Re: Winter Smallmouth

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Originally Posted by theboz View Post
If Diver Dan sees this I'm sure he can said some light as he fishes very cold water for smallies.
Actually I'm not much help for Winter Smallmouth. Up here they set in the very deep holes for the winter and are protected from my fly fishing attempts by a thick layer of ice.

When the ice goes out they will come shallow on the Sunny side of the river (Canada) first, but don't really get where you can clobber them on my side of the river till about May 1st give or take a few days based on weather. I've been keeping track of when they show up here for about 13 or 14 years and you can just about make a bet on not before May 1st being shallow here. I got one on the last day of April once, and heard of one other. I try and catch them earlier every year, but it's mostly just for the fun of casting, and for the Pike I get by accident.

I have pulled a couple out a tad earlier in the main river, but they are generlly still deeper and they don't seem not to hang around for the whole day.

In the Fall when you start having to dress in layers to keep from being completely miserable, they head back into the deep holes and unless you get out the spinning rod and jigs you aren't getting near them.

The very end of the not to darned cold weather in the Fall, they go after poppers pertty well.

I don't think I am going to be of much help, other than if you can hit mid river deep holes and fish really slow you might have a shot. Here you can't do it because the river is way to big and deep.
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Old 03-22-2013, 05:56 AM
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Default Re: Winter Smallmouth

D. Dan
What temp is the water when you start catching?
J
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Old 03-22-2013, 07:15 AM
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Default Re: Winter Smallmouth

Quote:
Originally Posted by streamwalker View Post
Most of the time when I'm bass fishing in the winter I don't use a fly rod I know don't hate me. But I don't have a setup for it. Because wintertime bass fishing is Slowwwww!! An deep!! Most of the time I throw a senko worm In 20 feet of water where I know cover is and let it sit for 30 seconds even a minute then barely twitch it and do the same thing over and over covering water very slowly.
The shame, THE SHAME!!!!!!
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:32 PM
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Default Re: Winter Smallmouth

Location is the most important thing in the winter, unlike in the warm weather months when the fish are just about everywhere in Ozark streams. In the winter, the fish are found in certain specific pools that have all the things they need for winter. In smaller, wadeable type streams, they are either not in them anymore, having migrated to larger, deeper waters for the winter (they'll be starting to move back into them, or getting ready to, about now), or they find places where they can get totally out of sight and pretty much go dormant for much of the winter. You almost have to fish the larger streams, those that require a boat or canoe, in the winter to do well.

Like somebody else on here, I don't fly fish for them in the winter, I use casting tackle. But you can use fly tackle, it's just a little easier to use the other stuff. The key, once you find them, is to fish slowly and SOMEWHAT deep. Don't make the mistake of fishing the very deepest parts of the deepest pools. Any fish in those areas are going to be so inactive they will be almost impossible to catch. They still eat in the winter, and they go to where they can find some food, while still feeling safe and secure from overhead predators. So if your river has 4 feet of visibility, look for fish in slow water areas that are just deep enough that you can't see the bottom, out to about 7 or 8 feet, seldom deeper. Cover, especially big rocks, is nice, but for some reason the fish sometimes move to sand bottom areas just off the main current.

Use something that will get down fairly quickly and fish it slowly on the bottom. Alternatively, use a streamer about 2.5-3.5 inches long that will sink slowly, and fish it very slowly, with long pauses and short twitches. The fish will come up to about the 4 or 5 foot level to take a minnow-imitating streamer, especially when the water is clear.

Oh, and about finding wintering pools...look for pools with large areas of fairly deep water, rocky or loggy cover that they can get UNDER, and areas with very, very slow current. Also, imagine what the pool would look like in flood. There have to be spots where a backwater, entering creek, or rock outcrop will give the fish somewhere to get out of the current during winter floods, even if that spot is above the water during normal levels. It's tough for a fish to survive in a 33 degree water temperature winter flood.
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Old 03-22-2013, 10:45 PM
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Default Re: Winter Smallmouth

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Originally Posted by leftys brother View Post
D. Dan
What temp is the water when you start catching?
J
I'm not really sure. It's still pretty cool. I should take a temp this time just to see.
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Old 03-22-2013, 11:26 PM
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Default Re: Winter Smallmouth

D. Dan
I was reading that some of their activity is caused by day length and not necessarily by water temp and was thinking that you would be in a perfect position to examine it. What you said about seldom before the 1st of may would lead me to believe day length is playing into it cause there must of been at least a few early springs in your career. Then again maybe not as I never remember one from when I lived in Wyoming.
I appreciate your insights.
J

---------- Post added at 12:26 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:18 AM ----------

al a

Have you noticed how they react to shade in the winter?
J
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Old 03-23-2013, 01:50 AM
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Default Re: Winter Smallmouth

Quote:
Originally Posted by leftys brother View Post
D. Dan
I was reading that some of their activity is caused by day length and not necessarily by water temp and was thinking that you would be in a perfect position to examine it. What you said about seldom before the 1st of may would lead me to believe day length is playing into it cause there must of been at least a few early springs in your career. Then again maybe not as I never remember one from when I lived in Wyoming.
I appreciate your insights.
J

---------- Post added at 12:26 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:18 AM ----------

al a

Have you noticed how they react to shade in the winter?
J
Well it would make sense that it was length of day. It's pretty much like clockwork when they come in here. Like I said, the earliest I have seen is the last day of April. Ice out here on the river can vary by a month and a half. I have records going back to 1934. The latest was April 30th. That happened twice. 2008 and just a few years ago. The earliest is March 11th, but it is in April about 3 times as often in April as March. It does not seem to make a great deal of difference as to when they come in, except when it opened on the 30th od April, and the last time that happened it was still stinking cold. We had a snow storm that buried the place about the 3rd or 4th of May. They were a bit late that year. On the otherhand, so was I.

My point is, the river has a month and a half in variable opening, but the Bass sure don't Vary that much. The latest one I can find in my photos is May 11th 2008, which was the latest the river ever opened up. I will have to look, but it got nicer faster the second time it did it on that date. I know the ice came off the lake earlier. We had ice on the lake in 08 till the first week of June. I think the lake was open for fishing opener the second time. So in my experience and keeping track since 1998, my earliest was April 30th, and the latest is May 11th. I look at that May 11th as a radical outlier. If you do like they do in most things like that and toss out the far end numbers, it would be about May 1st to May 6th or so.

Keep in mind, that when they move shallow and stay there. If you go into the sunny side adjacent to deep water they do come shallow and feed but they don't hang around. I have also picked up a few on the shady side a few days earlier in the main river, and interestingly, night seems to be the best in a few spots, but even then you only get to get a preview of about 4 or 5 days.

Now this year the dang ice is still building. It's been around -10 F for the last 4 nights in a row. It got up to a whole whopping +30 today. We aren't going to get rid of any ice like that. I had -21 F last night followed by a high of about 9. If the weather does not start to turn pretty quick, I am going to have some trouble with the Spring Pike season. Interestingly, that seems to be a time of year thing as well. It runs two weeks if the rivers and streams go out in the normal order and you follow it around the lake. Most years that runs the middle two weeks of April. On a really cold one it can run into the first week of May, but that's rare and they have run under the ice and been done when it breaks. That sucks.

It kind of shows that temperature plays only a part at best for a lot of fish.

You can see why I like Spring here. Big Bass, big Pig Pike and big Walleye. A person could put in 5 or 6 weeks here and get the biggest fish of those three species they ever saw let alone caught. Unless they lived here and then maybe still do it.

Now for the shade thing. Almost everything you read about Smallmouth and shade is a load of BS. They will use it, they don't mind it. But they don't hate the sun or are "extremely photophobic" as one writer put it. There was a guy who wrote a book and an article in American Angler that came up with that jewel. I have never written a magazine about an article before or since that over an article, but that one made me do it.

Smallmouth are structure oriented a lot of the time, but not always. In a lot of places, they wander main lake basins with no structure whatsoever. They like rock better than wood but that doesn't mean you won't pull one off of wood. But if you buy into that they hate sun gotta have shade BS you will be missing the vast majority of fish.

By the way, they published my letter as an article called "One from the sunny side". To make my point, I would say that better than 80% of the Smallmouth I have caught, came from spots that had zero shade. Do yourself a favor and disregard anything you ever heard about Smallies needing or wanting shade. You can get them in the shade, but it has little or nothing to do with the shade.

Last edited by Guest1; 03-23-2013 at 02:22 AM.
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:54 PM
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Default Re: Winter Smallmouth

Great Stuff D. Dan
Interesting from my almost not worth mentioning experience. In the summer in the rivers here you can still catch them on the sunny side but it is definitely more productive on the shady side. Even when structure indicates contrary. But that is a very limited sample size that I will continue to add to. Wonder how much water temp plays into shade vs sun. Right now It has been equally unproductive.
J
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