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boudroux

Where do they go. Colorado River Smallies in Winter

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So my main smallmouth haunt is the lower Colorado River in California approx 40-50 miles up from the Mexican boarder.

 

In the section of the River it is all man made banks, very consistent sand only bottom with summer time depths ranging from a couple of feet to isolated deeper (small) section that can be anywhere between 8-12' deep.

 

During the summer when the water levels are highest we slay them along the rip rap banks.  Summer time the water is well up on the rock banks leaving a few to a handful feet of water over the rocks.  Throwing just about any type of swim/crank/spinner works like a charm.

 

In the winter however, the water levels are way down and the rocks are mostly dry with mud banks exposed.  I'm yet to figure out where they go this time of the year.  This stretch is dynamite in higher water and a mystery in winter/low water.

 

Part of my question is how far do you think the fish travel to find the type of cover they prefer?  I ask because down river a ways the river is as nature does it.  No rip rap banks, just natural river with cliffs, a few deeper holes, lots of bends and such.  However for the most part this down river stretch is extremely shallow and can be very tough to navigate in a boat.  Also, the fish from the upper stretches would have to travel down anywhere from a dozen to many more miles.  Is it possible they move that far in the winter?

 

This video is of the man made up river stretch with summer high water.  You can see there is only a couple feet of rocks exposed.  This time of the year  you would see the rock bank completely exposed so the edges have no cover at all.  

 

Any help is appreciated and I thank you in advance.

 

 

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When that water level drops the smallmouth are going to pull off the banks. Look for mid river holes, it doesn't have to be much, maybe 1' or 2' difference. Smallmouth are easy to find in high water, they almost always head toward the bank, especially ones that have undercuts or current breaks with eddies, when the water gets low they will seek out deeper, more stable areas and they tend to bunch up, and that is probably why you are having trouble as most of the fish moved to a certain area. If you are running an entire stretch and can't find them, look on a map and find the closest area to a major depth change, that is most likely where you will find them. Smallmouth will travel a considerable distance, and in your case it is possible most, not all, but most of them have moved, but you should be able to catch some in mid river holes as long as they have an adequate current break. I wish I could be of more help but your river is vastly different from the ones I fish so I just gave you the general rule of thumb, good luck and keep us posted. BTW, if you do find them, you will probably load the boat, it sounds like perfect conditions for them to be grouped up.

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A good way to find them can be trolling crankbaits digging into the sand, I catch them pretty good using this tactic with water temps 47 degrees and up, usually trolling around 2 mph. The amount of water you can cover is amazing 

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Thanks for the replies, much appreciated.

 

There are large sandbars all along but I've never tried the downstream side of one because I figured being in open water with no cover the drop off wouldn't hold fish.

 

I'll spend some time fishing the middle of the river on the sandbar drops and see how it goes.

 

Thanks again!

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15 hours ago, boudroux said:

Thanks for the replies, much appreciated.

 

There are large sandbars all along but I've never tried the downstream side of one because I figured being in open water with no cover the drop off wouldn't hold fish.

 

I'll spend some time fishing the middle of the river on the sandbar drops and see how it goes.

 

Thanks again!

Those sandbar drops sound exactly like the spots smallmouth would head to during low water periods. Let us know how you make out.

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What are the water temps this time of year where you fish?

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7 hours ago, Scott F said:

What are the water temps this time of year where you fish?

Early Jan, my last time out there, they were in the mid/upper 50's.  In the summer the water on the main channel is upper 70's to lower 80's.  

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