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Have you found the magic number to be 55 or do you think river/creek smallmouth bite in any water temps above 50?


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It seems that at least in creeks/rivers, although smallmouth can be caught at any time of the year, the most success is above 50 and the aggressive bite doesn't really start until it hits 55.  What is your experience?

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Yeah I have found them in summer like curing eating swimbaits when water temps were in the mid 40s. They really get aggressive in the summer in rivers and creeks.

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I think it’s a broad range, but for whatever reason I have had a lot of luck in the spring and again in the fall at the magic water temp of 53. Could be coincidence, but I never try to miss it now -

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7 hours ago, JWall14 said:

They really get aggressive in the summer in rivers and creeks.

This is my experience too. When the water is like a bath tub, they are extremely aggressive. I pretty much only use topwater lures or shallow cranks. That period is generally during July and August here.

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8 minutes ago, gimruis said:

This is my experience too. When the water is like a bath tub, they are extremely aggressive. I pretty much only use topwater lures or shallow cranks. That period is generally during July and August here.

It’s because there is a directly proportional relationship between the water temperature and their metabolism. They are starving and when the midsummer heat saps the oxygen from the slack water they are highly concentrated in current.  It’s literally fish in a barrel.

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48 minutes ago, Ohioguy25 said:

They are starving and when the midsummer heat saps the oxygen from the slack water they are highly concentrated in current


There’s definitely an association with areas of current and concentrations of fish. Slower current areas are devoid of fish unless there’s a deeper hole, then there’s a fish or two in the hole. The absolute most productive areas are near current, hard bottom, and mid depth with overhanging shade. Highly accurate casting is required too. I am fully convinced that any lure will work, it just has to accurate. About the size of a dinner plate...if you miss you either get snagged or the fish isn’t interested.

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36 minutes ago, gimruis said:

Highly accurate casting is required too. I am fully convinced that any lure will work, it just has to accurate. About the size of a dinner plate...if you miss you either get snagged or the fish isn’t interested.

There's a lot of truth in this.  I choose my lures more based on what will get to and stay in the strike zone best.  The only other major consideration is the size of the bait.  Smallies in my river seem to totally ignore lures that are over 3".

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6 minutes ago, Pickle_Power said:

Smallies in my river seem to totally ignore lures that are over 3"

I primarily only use two lures in these small rivers: a discontinued storm subwart (or similar), and a small tube. When a fish strikes at the subwart and misses, I cast right back there with the tube. Works every time. You’d be surprised how many times they miss the subwart too, even though it has 2 treble hooks.

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14 hours ago, Ohioguy25 said:

It’s because there is a directly proportional relationship between the water temperature and their metabolism. They are starving and when the midsummer heat saps the oxygen from the slack water they are highly concentrated in current.  It’s literally fish in a barrel.

I would not consider it fishing in a barrel. But temps effect metabolism. All Smallies rushing to current when summer is in full swing is not true. In a river system most will make a home on a certain structure. Have a feeding routine and return to structure or that place they want to be. True riffles or wing dam will creat more ovygen. But the body of water is not oxygen starved. 

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13 hours ago, gimruis said:


There’s definitely an association with areas of current and concentrations of fish. Slower current areas are devoid of fish unless there’s a deeper hole, then there’s a fish or two in the hole. The absolute most productive areas are near current, hard bottom, and mid depth with overhanging shade. Highly accurate casting is required too. I am fully convinced that any lure will work, it just has to accurate. About the size of a dinner plate...if you miss you either get snagged or the fish isn’t interested.

Agree totally. The fish are very predictable. Find riffles and fish below until the current slows. Skip the slow stuff completely. The biggest fish will be in deeper (4-5ft) eddies right next to the fast current in my experience. I have miles of river in my head and I know exactly where the biggest fish will be every time I go out. If you fish your creek/river enough the same will happen to you. If you are going for numbers, any fast water/current will do but if you want the bigs I have found them in the deep eddies more often. Deep water right next to fast current is key. 

 

**I was walking through a waist deep slow pool next to current in a large river and didn't expect anything to be in there. Next thing I knew I was standing on top of a 5lb smallmouth who lazily swam off. So don't ignore the slow stuff if its right by current. 

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45 minutes ago, Spankey said:

I would not consider it fishing in a barrel. But temps effect metabolism. All Smallies rushing to current when summer is in full swing is not true. In a river system most will make a home on a certain structure. Have a feeding routine and return to structure or that place they want to be. True riffles or wing dam will creat more ovygen. But the body of water is not oxygen starved. 

Why then does everyone here say that all active fish will be in current?

34 minutes ago, JWall14 said:

Agree totally. The fish are very predictable. Find riffles and fish below until the current slows. Skip the slow stuff completely. The biggest fish will be in deeper (4-5ft) eddies right next to the fast current in my experience. I have miles of river in my head and I know exactly where the biggest fish will be every time I go out. If you fish your creek/river enough the same will happen to you. If you are going for numbers, any fast water/current will do but if you want the bigs I have found them in the deep eddies more often. Deep water right next to fast current is key. 

 

**I was walking through a waist deep slow pool next to current in a large river and didn't expect anything to be in there. Next thing I knew I was standing on top of a 5lb smallmouth who lazily swam off. So don't ignore the slow stuff if its right by current. 

Spot on.  I paddle the slow stuff and anchor/beach at the riffles.  
 

I caught a monster (19”) that was sitting in a tiny little pocket of slack water bank fishing the other day.

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1 minute ago, Ohioguy25 said:

Why then does everyone here say that all active fish will be in current?

Not sure. But that not true. I’ve caught some nice Smallies over the years off of lay downs during the summer and it was not close to wingdams or higher water flows.Just under Normal flow conditions of the river. 
 

I'm not implying there is no truth in what you are saying. Just saying the are not all facing into a wing dam somewhere with shallow faster flow. Can’t always assume there is feed at a spot that looks good to you. I think the Smallies have a better idea as to where that is and how to survive. They are not the only fish in there trying to stay alive from day to day. They all need oxygen. If that’s the case the fish would be stacked in there so solid you could walk across their back like JC on water. 

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23 minutes ago, Spankey said:

Not sure. But that not true. I’ve caught some nice Smallies over the years off of lay downs during the summer and it was not close to wingdams or higher water flows.Just under Normal flow conditions of the river. 
 

I'm not implying there is no truth in what you are saying. Just saying the are not all facing into a wing dam somewhere with shallow faster flow. Can’t always assume there is feed at a spot that looks good to you. I think the Smallies have a better idea as to where that is and how to survive. They are not the only fish in there trying to stay alive from day to day. They all need oxygen. If that’s the case the fish would be stacked in there so solid you could walk across their back like JC on water. 

Lol not all fish have the same feeding habits, catfish and carp are unusually tolerant of stagnant, low oxygen water. White Bass and Stripers seem to favor slower moving water as well, same with largemouth. They can all be found at dams but they don’t require current or even necessarily prioritize it the way smallmouth do.

 

Why do you keep saying wing dam? I never said dams were the only place you can find them, this is about current in any form, and 99% of active smallmouth can be found there.

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39 minutes ago, Ohioguy25 said:

Why do you keep saying wing dam? I never said dams were the only place you can find them, this is about current in any form, and 99% of active smallmouth can be found there.

 

I think you and Spankey are misunderstanding each other here.  Spankey seems to be referring to a larger river system and we're talking about a smaller one, or even a creek.  There are no wing dams in the river I primarily fish because its a small river.  The average depth when I fish it in the summer is knee deep.  Heck, you can't even launch a boat in it unless you're using a kayak, canoe, or other small craft like a jon boat.

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45 minutes ago, gimruis said:

 

I think you and Spankey are misunderstanding each other here.  Spankey seems to be referring to a larger river system and we're talking about a smaller one, or even a creek.  There are no wing dams in the river I primarily fish because its a small river.  The average depth when I fish it in the summer is knee deep.  Heck, you can't even launch a boat in it unless you're using a kayak, canoe, or other small craft like a jon boat.

I am in considerably deeper water than that. I might be fishing from 1 foot to maybe 13-15 feet. 
 

I should be using the term current breaks but that is not what he is talking about either. He’s talking about riffles. Riffles where I’m at are some serious moving water. Not hydro electric dam stuff but you are not going to diddlebop across them in a pair of waders or sneakers toting your rod on your shoulders and cross the river. 
 

Thanks G, you are on my wave length. 
 

I won’t involve myself with this post any longer because I don’t know anything about catching Smallies. Oh....... dang.....I caught my first one 6 months ago. 

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4 hours ago, Spankey said:

I am in considerably deeper water than that. I might be fishing from 1 foot to maybe 13-15 feet. 
 

I should be using the term current breaks but that is not what he is talking about either. He’s talking about riffles. Riffles where I’m at are some serious moving water. Not hydro electric dam stuff but you are not going to diddlebop across them in a pair of waders or sneakers toting your rod on your shoulders and cross the river. 
 

Thanks G, you are on my wave length. 
 

I won’t involve myself with this post any longer because I don’t know anything about catching Smallies. Oh....... dang.....I caught my first one 6 months ago. 

No one said you didn’t know anything about catching smallies, but this post was clearly referring to creek/stream fishing as large rivers don’t really have current breaks and riffles like creeks do, hence why we were talking about them being concentrated at the current breaks.

 

Larger rivers have much deeper, cooler water that holds oxygen better and so yes they relate to structure more. Bigger rivers are essentially a lake ecosystem and completely different from creek/stream smallmouth fishing.

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4 hours ago, Spankey said:

Thanks G, you are on my wave length. 
 

I won’t involve myself with this post any longer because I don’t know anything about catching Smallies. Oh....... dang.....I caught my first one 6 months ago. 

No worries Spankey. We’re all here to help each other and learn. When you catch a nice fish, posting a photo is welcomed too.

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I personally do not catch many smallmouth in still sloughs or real slow water in warmer summer months (water over 70 degrees) but I do keep getting them in moving water with some depth. Early and late in the day, in the summer, I even catch them in shallow moving water pulling fast baits. I have no real experience fishing for smallmouths in big deep (over 150 yards across) rivers though. Come to think of it, it does seem like I catch most of my bigger smallies in the spring, in water between 55 and 65 degrees.

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