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Nicholas Frederick

tips for fall Smallmouth bass

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I'm just getting back into fishing this year and this is my first fall on my local river. I caught some really nice smallies this summer mainly on top water with the water temp about 60 to 70 degrees. But now its falling below 60 so topwater is out. What baits do you guys recommend ?. I have been trying all different stuff. Al linder says he uses a swim jig and a willow blade spinner bait these were my next purchase. Any information would be helpful thanks Nick

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First thing, define when exactly fall begins. 60 degrees is not for me or my fellow river smallie chasers the end of the topwater bite, nor is it the beginning of fall. For me, fall begins when the river smallmouth move to their wintering areas which seems to be when the water drops closer to 50 degrees or below. Until then, everything that's been working all summer still works for me except the size of the fish starts to get bigger. 

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Yeah I'm thr same way when I see them leave their summer haunts in riffles tail waters anything like close to current and shift off into the deep pools and as for baits spinnerbaits can be deadly and topwater bite is even better for me around my area 

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Topwater bite should be even better this time of the year.

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Smallies hit topwater really well into the low 50's here. I don't put topwater away until November most years. Moving baits are usually the go to baits this time of year. If they won't eat topwater you might try something like a fluke or squarebill. One thing about topwater smallmouth, most of the time if you get a little ripple on the top it will help the bite a ton. Flat calm days I get a lot of swirls and followers. 

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Early fall is basically everything right up until the water temps start dropping below 50 or so here. During that stretch, fish are still going to be at the heads and tailouts of runs in moderate current, around large boulders in areas of fast current, and sitting on ledges.  These are all areas that you can fish with fast moving baits most days, so spinnerbaits, crankbaits, swim jigs, tubes, and grubs are going to be big producers, but really, anything is fair game leading into fall.  Late summer/early fall typically means super aggressive fish, and usually a great time of year to pick up bigger fish.  Fish, especially larger ones, need to pack on the calories leading into winter, and to me, that means fish will not just be generally more aggressive, but will be feeding actively for a larger window than any time other than maybe pre-spawn.  

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I find the river largemouth bite kicks up a notch or two.  I don't fish for them differently they just hang together. Generally pretty nice fish also. Only managed a few greenies this year so far. Feel good about a nice one before it all over. 

 

I'm hoping for some good fall fishing. Will feel a lot better if water conditions settle down and clear up some. 

 

I'm not gonna fish too much differently at this time. With water conditions being what they have been I've up sized my baits for a larger profile. Been fishing a jerkbait a lot more than normal to give them something to see abit longer. And went to a slightly bigger spinnerbait. 

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You should have been fishing a spinnerbait all year along with your other selected baits...

 

 

oe

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1 hour ago, OkobojiEagle said:

You should have been fishing a spinnerbait all year along with your other selected baits...

 

 

oe

For the river you may find it a bit of a learning curve until you find that size that they like. 

 

In my case on the river they are not huge heavy spinnerbaits. 

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I've been catching smallies on a 3/16 booyah gold willow with a green skirt.  I think they call it summer craw color.  3/16 is light enough I can fish it in less than a foot of water without dragging bottom and still control the speed.  I believe the smallmouth in my area have begun transitioning to deeper holes because the river has been so low.  They have been harder to find but the bite is good when I get on em.  Whopper plopper bite has been good for me as well.

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On 9/7/2017 at 7:36 AM, IndianaOutdoors said:

I've been catching smallies on a 3/16 booyah gold willow with a green skirt.  I think they call it summer craw color.  3/16 is light enough I can fish it in less than a foot of water without dragging bottom and still control the speed.  I believe the smallmouth in my area have begun transitioning to deeper holes because the river has been so low.  They have been harder to find but the bite is good when I get on em.  Whopper plopper bite has been good for me as well.

 

When the water is super low, and especially this time of year, just try sliding back a bit from the super shallow water.  The areas where those super fast runs transition into deeper pools can be fire, especially on smaller rivers.  On larger rivers, that transition area where the fast water opens up to depth is usually excellent as the water temperature falls. 

 

As for the movement to winter "holes", it's likely not happening for a while in most places and a lot of guys get very confused because of the term "wintering holes".  In the winter, fish will stack up in protected areas with little/no current, but this doesn't necessarily mean super deep water.  If there are protected points or oxbows with some depth near faster water, that's where the majority of local fish are going to be headed towards. So, if you're finding fish all summer along fast runs that just happen to have a protective point or oxbow just a few hundred yards away, you don't have to worry about traveling miles to find fish in the transitional seasons.  Just pick apart the water in between points A and B.  

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On 9/6/2017 at 8:39 AM, Nicholas Frederick said:

I really appreciate you guys so much thanks for the advice.

spinnerbaits are always tied on with me...try that topwater,always like throwing jerbaits,buzzwords etc. with the water cooling

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Rage Bug on a swing head ~ 1/2 oz works 

DRAG it along the bottom (seems better than hopping it) use a stop & go deal - move it 2 or 3 feet stop for just a second, and then repeat. 

Don't give them too good a look at it - - they will choke it ! 

Good Luck

:smiley:

A-Jay

 

22155129_1503396206406904_1810310111_n.j  22139847_1503396216406903_1708183124_o.jpg?oh=d37a13caa97356750c228b6037ac756a&oe=59E02DAE
 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, A-Jay said:

Rage Bug on a swing head ~ 1/2 oz works 

DRAG it along the bottom (seems better than hopping it) use a stop & go deal - move it 2 or 3 feet stop for just a second, and then repeat. 

Don't give them too good a look at it - - they will choke it ! 

Good Luck

:smiley:

A-Jay

 

22155129_1503396206406904_1810310111_n.j  22139847_1503396216406903_1708183124_o.jpg?oh=d37a13caa97356750c228b6037ac756a&oe=59E02DAE
 

 

 

 

 

This rocks year round.  Any kind of football, rugby, or swinging head can be money in rivers and since you're trying to keep bottom contact, heavier weight can be helpful, but mind water/flow levels.  Higher, faster water = more weight.  Craws are also good.  I've really grown to like sculpin/madtom imitations like these, too.  

 

http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Jewel_Bait_Sculpin/descpage-JS.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwgvfOBRB7EiwAeP7ehi3xNWrB_9lOMd3OoTcNxoa0aOhLwY7ZvbNC5cVjJjq5iwabewivSRoCwmsQAvD_BwE

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I have no river experience , but on lakes where the fish are coming in for the baitfish that are moving in, a 4 inch white Strike King KVD swim bait on a 3/16 darter head jig is really effective when allowed to drop almost to the bottom then snapped sharply up.  Get into a regular cadence with it.Yesterday it was the only thing two of us could get action with from-63 degree water, very windy, very cloudy water.

 

One interesting bite-I had my jig hung up and I sharply jerked it a few times to free it.  As soon as it started to come, a fish hit it.  Our best 5 were just shy of 25 pounds.  Biggest two were 5-9.  

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11 hours ago, MickD said:

I have no river experience , but on lakes where the fish are coming in for the baitfish that are moving in, a 4 inch white Strike King KVD swim bait on a 3/16 darter head jig is really effective when allowed to drop almost to the bottom then snapped sharply up.  Get into a regular cadence with it.Yesterday it was the only thing two of us could get action with from-63 degree water, very windy, very cloudy water.

 

One interesting bite-I had my jig hung up and I sharply jerked it a few times to free it.  As soon as it started to come, a fish hit it.  Our best 5 were just shy of 25 pounds.  Biggest two were 5-9.  

 

This presentation is awesome with swimbaits, tubes, or grubs anywhere, but definitely in rivers.  It's a great way to work boulder fields (you will snag and it will require patience and a learning curve), in the heads and tail outs of pools, and through deeper runs.  I really like it drifted and jigged through deeper runs because fish in 3-6' of water will see it if they're feeding anywhere across the water column, it forces the reaction bite, and it looks like a small struggling baitfish naturally getting washed out while struggling in current.  Also a tip in current, often, allowing the bait to fall on slack line can be important, so remember to drop your rod tip quickly even if you're up-stroke is fast.

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I don't want to highjack the thread, but I also don't want to create a new post on something so similar. 

 

I promised my son one last fishing trip. We are in WI and plan to float a section I have success on in the past. Problem is we can't get out till the 28th of October. 

 

We typically throw topwater, jigs, chatterbaits, and darter heads with grubs/swim baits. Can I stick to this process at this time of year? (Water was 54 degrees on a section I was on today and couldn't buy a bite)

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22 hours ago, Birdman2136 said:

I don't want to highjack the thread, but I also don't want to create a new post on something so similar. 

 

I promised my son one last fishing trip. We are in WI and plan to float a section I have success on in the past. Problem is we can't get out till the 28th of October. 

 

We typically throw topwater, jigs, chatterbaits, and darter heads with grubs/swim baits. Can I stick to this process at this time of year? (Water was 54 degrees on a section I was on today and couldn't buy a bite)

Without knowing where in WI, it's kinda hard to help.  If you don't want to hotspot it, PM me.

 

Top water was still working up here (Lake is in the New Auburn area) last Sunday with mid 60's water temps about a foot down (both transducers on my boat).

 

I found out inadvertently by chucking a diver out, the wrapping the line around my reel...in the 2 seconds it took to unwrap it, the smallie below inhaled the fly...

 

59dc1e8211a5e_IMG_2790-800x600.JPG.f155850578124bb3d51a35550cc3aa22.JPG

 

...by the 28th, I'd expect surface temps to be 50° ish around here...but this year has been so weird that I can't begin to make that a solid prediction.

 

In my pointy little head, topwater can still work above 50°...below that I tend to focus on low-n-slow.

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Rage Tail Menace, T-rigged.

 

:ok-wink:

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Lake water temps here today (about 90 miles due east of the Twin Cities) were 57° - 58°.  That'll come down as air temps today struggled to get above 50°...but the forecast for the next 10 days is 60s and 70s...with lows only in the 40s...and we've only had two nights with frost so far...

 

No top water bites today for me, but that felt like more of a conditions thing rather than a water temperature thing.

 

It rained all day yesterday, and we started the day with a low barometer that climbed all day.

 

...still managed one smallie, a pike and another musky.

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Fall fishing is VERY difficult. Also I worried WAAAAY too much about water temp. Keep an open mind, and just fish. The water temp deal is totally a generalization. I couldn't get bit on topwater on 6 trips here from Labor day until a week and a half ago. Water temp dropped from summer temps to low 50s, and topwater NEVER worked.  They only wanted moving baits and senkos in DEEEEP water. Then I throw a tournament last week when the water temp ROSE a few degrees to HIGH 50s, and it was won on shallow approaches with finesse baits, as well as whopper ploppers on top. They are very unpredictable in fall. They can be finicky or ultra-aggressive. They move very far for food and it changes constantly. Try your favorite tactics, cover LOTS of water, and change your approach FREQUENTLY if you are not being bit. Drop speed can be huge, go fast, go slow, moving baits, slow sinking baits, topwaters, deep swimming baits. Show them everything until they give you hints and you can finally put a pattern together. This is coming from a guy who really struggled in past years trying to learn this and is finally figuring out some things the past two years and got some good ones in the boat. The fall deal can be very tough, but very rewarding. Best of luck!

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I was out today on the North Branch of the Susquehanna here in PA, and while I can't speak from experience on temperature in WI rivers, the climate in northern PA is similar to much of Wisconsin.  Today (Sunday) we managed 28 fish including a small walleye and a pike that was around 28-30". The water temp was 55 or so this morning and ranged from 59-63 in the afternoon.  There were smallmouth feeding on top, but we had little success.   The water was low and stained and while Saturday our guide had success in deep, clear, slower water, the conditions today changed and we couldn't buy bites there. Why?  Water clarity somehow changed, and the food moved (Saturday they seemed to have found a school of yellow perch that moved along by Sunday).  So, we gave up on that and switched to fishing where they "should" be and changed to fish the conditions.   Low water typically means slow water, so most fish were either sitting right on current seams, in moderate current or in good ambush points along slower, shallower pools. Makes sense since even the riffled sections weren't very fast due to low water.   They were hitting spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, crankbaits and occasionally swimbaits and tubes aggressively.  These fish were all fat. 

 

So, I guess tl;dr - get an idea of where they SHOULD be, add or remove current until you start to find them and not worry too much about seasonal lures, but focus on fishing what will present well in the water clarity you're fishing.  

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22 hours ago, 1978jessejames said:

Fall fishing is VERY difficult. Also I worried WAAAAY too much about water temp. Keep an open mind, and just fish. The water temp deal is totally a generalization. I couldn't get bit on topwater on 6 trips here from Labor day until a week and a half ago. Water temp dropped from summer temps to low 50s, and topwater NEVER worked.  They only wanted moving baits and senkos in DEEEEP water. Then I throw a tournament last week when the water temp ROSE a few degrees to HIGH 50s, and it was won on shallow approaches with finesse baits, as well as whopper ploppers on top. They are very unpredictable in fall. They can be finicky or ultra-aggressive. They move very far for food and it changes constantly. Try your favorite tactics, cover LOTS of water, and change your approach FREQUENTLY if you are not being bit. Drop speed can be huge, go fast, go slow, moving baits, slow sinking baits, topwaters, deep swimming baits. Show them everything until they give you hints and you can finally put a pattern together. This is coming from a guy who really struggled in past years trying to learn this and is finally figuring out some things the past two years and got some good ones in the boat. The fall deal can be very tough, but very rewarding. Best of luck!

It took a little digging around...had to follow your Facebook link to your website...but you're not far from me here near Chippewa Falls...

 

Spot on, around here.  Weather and water temps are seriously weird this fall...and the fishing is weird because of it.

 

I was on a local lake known for smallies last weekend and saw water temps as high as 62.4°!  That's nuts for this part of the country, this late in the year.

 

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Smallmouth seem to like the colder water more then Largies, so the top water bite should not disappear at 60 degrees.  It honestly should be even better.  Colder water brings in a better flow of oxygen.  As long as the PH isn't destroyed by a local plant/hurricane, then the Smallies and even Largies will be roaming in eddies waiting for the baitfish to get lost in current.  If top water for some reason in your area still seems weak, then try a wacky worm or Neko rig.  I have had great success with them both in rivers.  Also craws work great to, just be mindful of color and presentation.  Good Luck!

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