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I have now heard a few people mention that places on rivers near gravel pits generally hold large smallmouth, why do you suppose this is?


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If smallmouth prefer gravel bottoms, this sort of changes my previous understanding of their association with rock.  I’ve always heard smallmouth hang out near rocks because of crawfish. This would be challenged by the gravel pit theory and the fact that their preference for rock is not limited to slab/chunk rock where craws/hellgrammites live, but extends to ANY sort of rock structure: chunk, slab, boulders, pebbles, and especially large concrete embankments and walls, bridge pylons & cinder blocks. 
 

Is this because the presence of rock in any form makes the water cleaner? I know smallmouth have a low tolerance for pollution. Thanks!

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I wouldn’t say smallmouth have a low tolerance for pollution, example Tennessee river. The tributaries coming out of the most polluted tourist towns are absolutely loaded with monster smallmouth 
 

I can’t help much on the gravel thing 

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There can be plenty of craws in cinder blocks and pebbles to. Sometimes they just want a big boulder as structure to relate to. Even if the boulder dosent offer much else.

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The creek I fish has a gravel bottom, mixed with rocks and the occasional downed trees.  No gravel pits nearby that I know of, but it does have springs which cool down the creek in the area.  Just because there's a gravel pit nearby doesn't mean the creek will have a gravel bottom.  What it might be is that is there is an outflow pipe to drain water from the pit or the if the pit is close enough there maybe seepage from the pit bringing cooler water into the creek.   As far as crayfish go, they don't need rocks or even gravel to be in a body of water.  Ever hear of "mudbugs"?  Just another name for crayfish.  My sister had a small pond at her house in Vermont.  It had crayfish in it.  Sandy to muddy bottom.  You could see the crayfish holes around the bank.  

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20 minutes ago, Fallser said:

The creek I fish has a gravel bottom, mixed with rocks and the occasional downed trees.  No gravel pits nearby that I know of, but it does have springs which cool down the creek in the area.  Just because there's a gravel pit nearby doesn't mean the creek will have a gravel bottom.  What it might be is that is there is an outflow pipe to drain water from the pit or the if the pit is close enough there maybe seepage from the pit bringing cooler water into the creek.   As far as crayfish go, they don't need rocks or even gravel to be in a body of water.  Ever hear of "mudbugs"?  Just another name for crayfish.  My sister had a small pond at her house in Vermont.  It had crayfish in it.  Sandy to muddy bottom.  You could see the crayfish holes around the bank.  

I was also thinking that. When I was camping in the swamp last month, I needed a rock to assist in calming a fish down that I was trying to fillet. Couldn’t find one! A river without rocks, something you won’t encounter where I live. That river without rocks is loaded with crawdads, we’ve had them crawl into the tents and all the fish we clean have craws in their stomach 

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20 hours ago, TnRiver46 said:

I wouldn’t say smallmouth have a low tolerance for pollution, example Tennessee river. The tributaries coming out of the most polluted tourist towns are absolutely loaded with monster smallmouth 

I wouldn't say that either, but I would say they are generally less tolerant of murkier or polluted waters than largemouth are.  Smallmouth also generally do better when there's current or moving water too.  Up here in the land of 10,000 lakes there really is not that many lakes with a reproducing population of brown bass given the amount of lakes present.  They reside in the rivers and a few of the bigger, clearer water lakes.  Other than a river, the closest place I can target smallmouth is about 90 miles away.

 

I haven't been able to target smallmouth yet this season, and I wasn't able to at all last season other than one time in May.  That is going to change in the next 2 months because the river I fish for them in is flowing normal again.  Last year it wasn't fishable because of our historic drought.

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Smallmouth aren't "less tolerant" of most things comparative to bucket mouth, but temperature tends to be one area that they are not as adaptable, lots of your murky, shallow, still water tends to hold much less oxygen, and is much hotter than running, clear deep water, and since on average I would say smallmouth are much more active predators than largemouth, who tend to be ambush specialists, it makes perfect sense that they have evolved to need a more oxygen rich environment to support that. Rocks tend to hold lots of food for both craws and for baitfish, which inevitably means the bass will be interested, also by changing the distance from sun warmed rocks they have the option of regulating their body temperatures fairly easily. 

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When i lived in california i had a suction dredge for finding gold in the super clear creeks in the sierras. I wore a fullbody wetsuit,  mask with snorkel, wetsuit hood, footies and gloves as the water in the summer was 50 degrees.

As i get into the hole we allready dredged out there isnt a fish in site. As soon as we start suctioning the gravels the trout magically show up facemask to fish face as they are gobbling up whatever i am disturbing.

Its a site to witness how the fish are just inches away from my hands holding the suction nozzle and hovering steady right next to my face like i was having a conversation with Mr. Limpet.

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On 6/28/2022 at 1:34 PM, Fallser said:

The creek I fish has a gravel bottom, mixed with rocks and the occasional downed trees.  No gravel pits nearby that I know of, but it does have springs which cool down the creek in the area.  Just because there's a gravel pit nearby doesn't mean the creek will have a gravel bottom.  What it might be is that is there is an outflow pipe to drain water from the pit or the if the pit is close enough there maybe seepage from the pit bringing cooler water into the creek.   As far as crayfish go, they don't need rocks or even gravel to be in a body of water.  Ever hear of "mudbugs"?  Just another name for crayfish.  My sister had a small pond at her house in Vermont.  It had crayfish in it.  Sandy to muddy bottom.  You could see the crayfish holes around the bank.  

True, but in river systems the highest concentration of crayfish tend to be where there are rocks no?

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Not necessarily- they’ll be there as they forage under and around rocks but they are in all parts of the river. And almost every river, lake, and stream across the US. They’re about as well-distributed as cockroaches. Clean Rocky parts of most rivers are clean rocks because there’s current there to sweep away mud and silt, but that usually results in a good feeding area as the current brings by good. They also need clean areas to spawn, with rock, clean sand or gravel, so there’s that.

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Rocks create ideal habitat fer craaws (Gman accent implied) because its ample cover. But they can use anything in the water for cover.

 

Quick note - watching Gman on youtube can be a great drinking game. You drink whenever he says feller, critter, varmint, etc...

 

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I’m a river smallie addict. Fishing the river my whole life for the most part. I’ve seen the river transform from less than spectacular to spectacular and start to regress and maybe rebounding again now. I river fish suburbia so like others mentioned I have things that influence it. 
 

The areas I fish has scattered rock, current, lay downs, blowdown, creek mouths, drainage pipes, docks, Lilly pads, coon tail, gravel, mud/silt bottoms, bridge piling, rip rap, creek mouths, broken concrete and cinder block, log jams. It is what it is. I’m certainly not fishing the Smallmouth Capital of the world. But smallies are there. 
 

I’ve thrown out the window along time ago as to where or what structure they will be on. Or the most ideal spot. Over the years I’ve caught some nice smallies in areas that were silty and resemble area more conducive for greenies to be. For me, so much for rhyme and reason. My PB river smallie came from under a corrugated storm drainage pipe that runs under a section of rail road tracks. Water flow out of that pipe is weather dependent. 

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On 6/29/2022 at 11:03 PM, VolFan said:

Not necessarily- they’ll be there as they forage under and around rocks but they are in all parts of the river. And almost every river, lake, and stream across the US. They’re about as well-distributed as cockroaches. Clean Rocky parts of most rivers are clean rocks because there’s current there to sweep away mud and silt, but that usually results in a good feeding area as the current brings by good. They also need clean areas to spawn, with rock, clean sand or gravel, so there’s that.

I’m confused, are we talking about smallmouth or crawfish? You said cockroaches and in most waterways, and there are several states that don’t have smallmouth. 

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I’m talking about crawdads - they are everywhere. I realize I switched what I was talking about midstream. Smallies are usually found near cleaner bottoms in stream because, generally, those areas have current and current brings food and keeps eggs clean 

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