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When does the “fall bite” for river smallmouth really begin in your eyes, and how much better is it really than summer?


Ohioguy25

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44 minutes ago, Turtle Angler said:

I see people talking about switching to their “fall tactics,” but what does that mean to each of you when you are targeting river smallies?

Bumping up size and speed, and switching to more of a baitfish presentation. Swimbaits are the most popular fall lure.

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Here it changes day to day or even hour to hour much more than by season. Fall typically brings me a ton of current so I use bigger lures and heavier line especially in the morning . They drop the highland reservoirs 30-40 feet and all that equals lots of water coming out of the dams so I have to get their attention. Buzzbait, swimbait, toads, rattle traps. Then by the afternoon it might be hot sunny and clear and the current from overnight generation has dropped out and you can throw little small natural baits for good success. The water coming from the bottom of a tall dam is a fairly constant temp until thanksgiving or so. 
 

on the opposite end of the spectrum, river fishing in the freestone rivers (without dams) pretty much sucks after Halloween. I’ve even walked up and downstream trying to scare them and they are all gone (hunkered down if there’s no big water escape). The cold nights can completely shut down those places in fall that are dynamite fishing in early spring at similar temps. I don’t even bother fishing a free stone river after mid October 

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When the water temps start to fall they usually (its not exact science) start to feed heavily in preparation for winter.  I have had the best topwater action from now until the end of October depending on the weather and water temp.  Once the topwater action dies (water temps get into the low to mid 50s) then I go to a 3.25" swimbait and back to the jerkbait.  With the cooler air temps and leaves changing, it's my favorite time to get out!

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17 hours ago, drakesndrum said:

When the water temps start to fall they usually (its not exact science) start to feed heavily in preparation for winter.  I have had the best topwater action from now until the end of October depending on the weather and water temp.  Once the topwater action dies (water temps get into the low to mid 50s) then I go to a 3.25" swimbait and back to the jerkbait.  With the cooler air temps and leaves changing, it's my favorite time to get out!

For sure! Do you believe photoperiod plays a roll in the transition/their feeding behavior as well?

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Northern Indiana here. My rivers are small and shallow.  The bite has really died off as the nights have started getting cooler. Up till last week they were still hitting topwater and moving baits in the normal spots near current and cover.  I have been catching mostly white bass the last few trips.  I took the boat out today which was interesting. There wasn't enough water to float the boat off the trailer so I had to push it off. Had to weave through the rocks to get anywhere.  Found a few sections that were 4-8ft deep but couldn't buy a bite. Throwing in the current seems produced one white bass.  I'll keep trying.  I really want to find a way to catch em at least through October.

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2 hours ago, IndianaOutdoors said:

Northern Indiana here. My rivers are small and shallow.  The bite has really died off as the nights have started getting cooler. Up till last week they were still hitting topwater and moving baits in the normal spots near current and cover.  I have been catching mostly white bass the last few trips.  I took the boat out today which was interesting. There wasn't enough water to float the boat off the trailer so I had to push it off. Had to weave through the rocks to get anywhere.  Found a few sections that were 4-8ft deep but couldn't buy a bite. Throwing in the current seems produced one white bass.  I'll keep trying.  I really want to find a way to catch em at least through October.

That’s crazy it sounds like your fall bite was sort of skipped?

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