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As you got deeper into this hobby did you begin to learn that there really are very small windows where the bite is great?


Ohioguy25

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I accepted a long time ago that “it’s called fishing not catching.”  But when you really break it down, beyond all of the variables completely out of our control like weather, free time and water conditions, large smallmouth are really only at their most active in the spring and the fall.  Summertime you can get numbers, with an occasional big bite thrown in the mix, but spring and fall are the highest percentage opportunities for trophy fish.  And within those small windows, those variables wreak havoc on the number of opportunities you really get to catch big fish.  
 

Now I am a river guy, so I’m not sure how it works on reservoirs, but I can only imagine it is even more challenging. The springs here in Ohio are wet and often cold, and the river is frequently blown out and too muddy to fish.  The fall is dry, the river is low and clear and the fish are spooky and stagnant.  Add to that they are scattered and unpredictable to a degree, with current of varying depths being the safest bet but no hard and fast rules. 

With spawn interrupting the spring frenzy and fall migration to wintering areas leaving them spaced out and difficult to find, it makes for an inconsistent and frustrating experience even when the cards are stacked in your favor.


I am in this thing for the long haul, and this is not meant to be a whiny, winded post. I am just sharing my observations and interested in how the more experienced anglers here have interpreted these challenges and fluctuations. 

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4 minutes ago, Ohioguy25 said:

 large smallmouth are really only at their most active in the spring and the fall.  

 

My largest smallmouth have been caught in January.

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I am not a river guy.

Instead I fish deep clear lakes for smallies.

I can agree with your timing premise,

and I'll take it a bit further.

When I'm looking for the biggest brown bass in the system, IMO a few things hold true.

They are the fewest in number.

They only make themselves accessible a few times a season.

Might mean a day, a couple hours or even just a few minutes. 

They are THE WARIEST of the bunch.

And they are The Hardest to get a bite from Hook, fight & Land.

So it stands to reason, at least for me, the more times I can be 

in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing,

the better chances I have to hold a trophy.

If I'm lucky, it happens once or twice a season.

If not, there's always next year.

Fish Hard

:smiley:

A-Jay

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The deeper I go, the more the golden rule seems to be the only one that matters and is set in stone.

 

TIME. ON. WATER.    Doesn't matter what time of year, if you are fishing all the time.....you're gonna run into active fish.    Fish feed all year long, sure they are like piranhas in the Fall, but then in the winter you get them where they are the biggest all year, and then in the summer I have my best chances to get huge "bags" in a single night.... meaning lots of big fish bunches together.   

 

Just keep going fishing, that's what I tell myself every time my confidence wains, or I get negative.   

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Yes. Never caught a Smallmouth but have fished for hours and caught 1 or 2 Spots or LM then the switch flips and catch 15 bass in 20 minutes. 

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7 hours ago, roadwarrior said:

 

My largest smallmouth have been caught in January.

Mine seem to have been from December-February also. And I’ve caught some really nice ones in the heat of summer 

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I'm torn between "small windows where the bite is great",  or just small windows where I can get them to bite.   

 

I've found that for some reason I do better when they're not supposed to bite.   Some of my best catches have been post storm, North wind and all kinds of other stuff that's supposed to be bad for the bite.  

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If you fish tidal water then you learn just how quickly a bite can turn off and stay off.  We plan our trip to St Clair for a “seasonal” bite and in 20 years of fishing it, we have had 80% great fishing, 15% hard fishing, 4.9% endurance fishing and .1% absolutely perfect and probably will never be duplicated epic fishing.  Lasted an entire week.  

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1 hour ago, Dwight Hottle said:

My biggest smallies have always been April/May in the spring & Oct/Nov in the fall without exception. 

That’s just because you don’t ice fish. Something tells me you could vertical jig an 8 lb thru the ice on a jerkbait 

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I would think this holds true with all fish for the most part. The big ones only tend to show themselves for small windows certain times of the year. When I musky fished a lot I used to keep logs and every year lake fishing April May and end of October early November seemed to be when the big girls would show up. In the river for me it was March. I have not kept records like this for smallies but, from what I can remember it seems to hold relatively the same. I also am sure some people have their “prime time” I would think a lot of that is how when their most proficient skill works best.

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I would have to agree with you. I think we are both northern river rats. I love the fall fishing on the river and alway feel that it’s the time of year the big one is coming. Honestly it’s not a given nor does it always happen. 
 

But I’ve picked off some really nice Smallies during the so called dog days of summer. 

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Im almost strictly river when it comes to smallies. I agree with time on the water as being one of the biggest factors in catching big smallies. However, what I an learning its not just getting more bites at the apple. as I spend more time on a body of water I start to learn the nuances of it and where to find fish. Location is key to me and if I stop catching fish it means they have moved based on conditions/season. 

 

as far as seasons, my biggest smallies have consistently came in July and August. Smallies are very predictable in location and the most aggressive they will be all year. This plays into my style of fishing.
 

On 11/13/2022 at 1:45 PM, Captain Phil said:

Roland Martin was once asked for his secret to catching more fish.  He replied, "Go early and stay late."

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On 12/12/2022 at 2:12 PM, Bdnoble84 said:

Im almost strictly river when it comes to smallies. I agree with time on the water as being one of the biggest factors in catching big smallies. However, what I an learning its not just getting more bites at the apple. as I spend more time on a body of water I start to learn the nuances of it and where to find fish. Location is key to me and if I stop catching fish it means they have moved based on conditions/season. 

 

as far as seasons, my biggest smallies have consistently came in July and August. Smallies are very predictable in location and the most aggressive they will be all year. This plays into my style of fishing.
 

Interesting, I find July and August to be decent months but nothing really compares to spring and fall for aggressiveness in large (18+”) fish.

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After doing this for over 50 years, the peak times for numbers have been low light conditions early and late in the day.  My P/B came at noon on a bright sunny day, go figure!!!!!!

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Interesting how much I think about, rationalize, and try to apply logic to fishing techniques, times, days, weather, location, etc., etc., etc.

 

I do the same dang thing when chasing waterfowl, ditch-chickens, deer, & turkey.

 

I keep trying to find patterns, apply logic, piece things together in my attempt to "crack the code" of fishing and hunting.

 

When I figure it out, and "crack the code," I will most certainly write a book and retire : )

 

Until then, I will keep wetting a line.

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On 12/13/2022 at 6:20 PM, Ohioguy25 said:

Interesting, I find July and August to be decent months but nothing really compares to spring and fall for aggressiveness in large (18+”) fish.

In Georgia, I can fish year round. But, spring and fall are definitely when the biting is best. Like @Ohioguy25 said. 

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