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Help finding early season smallmouth?

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Dupage River

Plainfield, Illinois

60 degrees air temp

52 degrees water temp

Clear skies

Wind NW 10mph

Fished 9am-12pm

River just a little high

with current moving good pace with some old vegetation floating down river.

 

Lures used:

4” White fluke

3/8oz. White Booyah Blade

Zara Puppy 

 

Area I fished was a “Run” of about 70 yards at 3.5 feet deep. Bottom gravel with sporadic decent sized rocks. Normally a crystal clear river, the water clarity is low today because recent rain.

 

I thought at this time of year the conditions were right for some bites. This is my second time out with no bites. Anything I might be doing wrong?

 

Thanks all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes. The smallmouth won’t be holding in current. Especially in cold water. You need to be looking for eddies and the break lines associated with them. Don’t expect topwaters to work either until the water is over 60 or so. 

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Thankyou Scott. I’ll concentrate on those areas, and switch up the Baits. And give er another go! 😊👍

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I would try dragging something relatively small  slowly on the bottom 

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I'd be trying two presentations. First would be a white jerkbait in the smaller sizes. Then a reverse hooked Fat IKA, which I would allow the current to take into any eddy. One of these will get you bit.

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On 4/9/2019 at 2:26 PM, Scott F said:

Yes. The smallmouth won’t be holding in current. Especially in cold water. You need to be looking for eddies and the break lines associated with them. Don’t expect topwaters to work either until the water is over 60 or so. 

My Pb smallie 6.9 was on a whopper plopper in 55 degree water over a spawning flat! Only bait that really worked after 10 hours of no fish! Switched it up to the WP 90 slayed them! 

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On 4/10/2019 at 11:19 AM, TnRiver46 said:

I would try dragging something relatively small  slowly on the bottom 

I’m sort of in the same boat you’re in. The beginning of the season can be tough. I don’t know why they seem no existent than they just arrive. I’ve been doing this a long time and can't ever figure them out. I’m fishing s section similar to you. Managed a walleye and two white perch so far. I’m fishing various grubs slow. Throwing a rat-l-trap some. My first Smallie of the year has come off a trap more than once. Hang in there. My next time out I’m going to fish some Mepps spinners slowly. 

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I've had some success so far on the DuPage this year in the Naperville area, although not after a recent rain. The visibility gets so poor and so much debris in the water...I've now decided to always wait a couple days after a rain (like the one today) before going back out. Most of my luck has been using jerkbaits (Husky Jerk, X-rap knockoff) and in natural colors. 

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On 4/18/2019 at 2:28 PM, bigguy24 said:

I've had some success so far on the DuPage this year in the Naperville area, although not after a recent rain. The visibility gets so poor and so much debris in the water...I've now decided to always wait a couple days after a rain (like the one today) before going back out. Most of my luck has been using jerkbaits (Husky Jerk, X-rap knockoff) and in natural colors. 

Hey hey hey whoa whoa whoa. Are you suggesting the husky jerk is an “x rap knockoff?” The husky jerk was around before the x rap was ever thought of. And they are both made by the same company. Just ribbing you a little bit, good river info 

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As a 54year old nearby, I love catching anything.  Been using inline spinners for stocked trout and caught a couple smallies.  So I went to a larger rooster tail and caught 3 over 16inches and a 3 pounder.  Is a inline spinner that old school that no one talks about, or just small mouth beginners luck?

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Might be beginners luck to try the spinner, but they are known to be good SM lures.  I think there are a number of old lures that would work (again) if we would try them.  I'll bet the Jitterbug will catch fish just as well as the now popular WP. There is another old lure, Arbogast I think, that I cannot even find a reference to that used to be a killer on SM when I was a kid, looked like a Johnson Silver Spoon, painted, with a skirt.  It and many others (River Runt) would work today.

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On 4/21/2019 at 11:27 PM, TnRiver46 said:

Hey hey hey whoa whoa whoa. Are you suggesting the husky jerk is an “x rap knockoff?” The husky jerk was around before the x rap was ever thought of. And they are both made by the same company. Just ribbing you a little bit, good river info 

Seems to me he uses husky jerks, and an x-rap knockoff from another company. I've got both but the x-raps are not cheap!

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17 hours ago, Highview Hank said:

As a 54year old nearby, I love catching anything.  Been using inline spinners for stocked trout and caught a couple smallies.  So I went to a larger rooster tail and caught 3 over 16inches and a 3 pounder.  Is a inline spinner that old school that no one talks about, or just small mouth beginners luck?

Welcome to the forum! Inline spinners are super old school, but they still work great.  They should still be a go to lure when fish are tight lipped. 

 

 

The OP's question-

The best way to stay on fish this time of the year is figuring out where they are through their spawning process.  As water warms, their metabolisms are going to speed up right into the spawn.  Their metabolism is largely going to be driven by water temp, and they're going to be gorging themselves the closer they get to the spawn.  The thing is, they can't expend the energy to justify hanging out in most runs or riffles yet because of the current speed around them.  

 

Right now, I'd look for larger current breaks in moderate current, or immediately adjacent to fast current. These types of conditions occur at points, inside bends, heads and tails of islands, below grass beds or ledges, near bridge pilings, near the mouths of feeder streams (especially this one), etc.  

 

As the season moves closer to the spawn, bass will move towards those areas. Look for protection, relatively shallow, moderate to slow current, and suitable bottom composition than can range from sparse weedbeds to gravel (ideally).  General water clarity may effect depth of spawn, but aggressive pre spawn fish will be located at the best feeding location near these spots.  You'll find fish stacked on the closest structure change to the spawning areas as the spawn moves along.

 

You'll find them near their favorite forage - crayfish, madtoms, schooling fish like perch and alewives/herring/shad, etc. Just pick a lure that mimics (whatever any of those food items happen to be) that you can present best well in those conditions and you should be catching fish.  Pre-spawn smallmouth are not notoriously picky, so most stuff will work.  Jigs, tubes, jerkbaits, grubs, Senkos, and all of your other standard smallmouth stuff can be in play.

 

 Spring can be tricky, but this is kinda my crash course on figuring it out.  Other stuff like high or low water events, the first full moon, the tendencies of that particular river, and a handful of other stuff can play big roles this time of year.  This is where I would start.  Hopefully at least some of this helps. 

 

(Steps off soap box)

 

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Thankyou! That was an Awesome post Turkey Sandwich. This helps a bunch. I’m actually heading out right now. I can put your tips into practice. 👍

 

”steps off soap box” 😂 that was funny!

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I had a nice one on today where a creek mouth met the river. I fished that opening and had a nice one on a green pumpkin tube, but lost it. I’ve never fished tubes before, and should have set the hook harder since i had it rigged weedless. 

 

Other than that, I got no nibbles at my other spots today. 

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