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Does anyone else find the “fall bite” on small-medium sized rivers sort of confusing when everyone says they abandon their summer areas but are somehow still feeding in current?


Ohioguy25

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Can someone explain this to me? I generally have summer pattern down pat, although I am always learning. Fall is very confusing to me, as I have long heard that within a week of the autumnal equinox river smallmouth beging making their way to where they will spend the winter.

 

Yet as we all know they can be found aggressively feeding in shallow current when the fall bite really takes effect into October.  Isn’t this really the same as summer pattern with the exception of them moving up a bit or am I missing something?

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On 9/30/2023 at 12:33 PM, PaulVE64 said:

I really wished I knew.

They become very inconsistent.

Yeah, that’s putting it mildly. Spring and fall are all over the place for me, never understood the hype. Summer is a grind but at least they are consistently in the same places.

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Okay, so today its mid summer weather, blue bird sky and no wind.

Smallies were schooled up in 4 fow and they were hungry. 

Is this the fall bite?

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49 minutes ago, PaulVE64 said:

Okay, so today its mid summer weather, blue bird sky and no wind.

Smallies were schooled up in 4 fow and they were hungry. 

Is this the fall bite?

Yeah but what is the water temp and what part of the country you in?

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47 minutes ago, Ohioguy25 said:

Yeah but what is the water temp and what part of the country you in?

Water temp is mid 60s here in the Great White North. Similar to MI

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Last I checked smallies don't know what fall is so they do their thing.  Transition times are always strange as they are already a fish that can move a lot and fall is no different.  I prefer fly fishing but in fall I go conventional and use search baits like cranks, chatterbaits, soft bodied swim baits etc.....gotta find them then look for similar areas as I cover as much water as possible.  If I had a better grasp on wintering areas I could probably be more focused but I don't so I am forced to cover water and find them as best I can.

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12 hours ago, PaulVE64 said:

Water temp is mid 60s here in the Great White North. Similar to MI

Thought so lol. Midwest can be all over the map, here in southern Ohio is a completely different climate. I’m on the northernmost rim of whats considered a humid subtropical climate, and so it is currently pushing 90 today. We are all patiently waiting for the water to get down to 65 and our fall bite to begin.

3 hours ago, flyfisher said:

Last I checked smallies don't know what fall is so they do their thing.

So then what triggers the transition in their feeding behavior and migration around the same time every year?

3 hours ago, flyfisher said:

If I had a better grasp on wintering areas I could probably be more focused but I don't so I am forced to cover water and find them as best I can.

So you believe they do move to their wintering areas around this time?

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17 minutes ago, Ohioguy25 said:

Thought so lol. Midwest can be all over the map, here in southern Ohio is a completely different climate. I’m on the northernmost rim of whats considered a humid subtropical climate, and so it is currently pushing 90 today. We are all patiently waiting for the water to get down to 65 and our fall bite to begin.

So then what triggers the transition in their feeding behavior and migration around the same time every year?

So you believe they do move to their wintering areas around this time?

Depends on who you ask or what study you read.  I know many things I have read indicate the length of daylight is the biggest trigger while others swear by water temperature.  I do know that the fall bite so to speak varies for me anywhere from late September through December some years.  

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I’ve found smallmouth to bite year round, what triggers them

is a fishing lure not a temp or the sun 

 

I have also seen a thunderstorm fire them off

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5 hours ago, TnRiver46 said:

I’ve found smallmouth to bite year round, what triggers them

is a fishing lure not a temp or the sun 

 

I have also seen a thunderstorm fire them off

I find this to be true also...

The only thing I do a little different (when wading) in the fall is replace a crank bait with a spinner bait.
This is really just to eliminate catching leaves.

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Pattern lately has been deep pools (+4 fow) with boulders and just up river of shallow rapids.

Baitfish patterns drifted. Using hi vis braid to line watch and setting hook on anything "different"

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Where I live, September seems to be a month of catching quantity and quality in creeks/small rivers. It's like they're suddenly woken up from the summer pattern and start eating everything thrown at them. Then the next phase would be schooling up and swimming around to chase baits. And then by October, the bites dial down quite a bit, and I don't see them wolf packs cruising as often.

 

My theory is that in September, every smallie realizes the winter is coming and start eating. They're still mostly located at where they were during summer. Then, some of the fish forms groups and start hunting around, but some of the fish decides to stay at the same spot, hanging on to the summer locations. Then in October,  those wolf packs, which consist of the majority of creek smallies, have moved on to the big river, while there're still some fish who decide to stay in the creek for the whole winter.  In summary, not all fish behaves the same, and you could still find some fish "in summer pattern" even in October.

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4 hours ago, newapti5 said:

Where I live, September seems to be a month of catching quantity and quality in creeks/small rivers. It's like they're suddenly woken up from the summer pattern and start eating everything thrown at them. Then the next phase would be schooling up and swimming around to chase baits. And then by October, the bites dial down quite a bit, and I don't see them wolf packs cruising as often.

 

My theory is that in September, every smallie realizes the winter is coming and start eating. They're still mostly located at where they were during summer. Then, some of the fish forms groups and start hunting around, but some of the fish decides to stay at the same spot, hanging on to the summer locations. Then in October,  those wolf packs, which consist of the majority of creek smallies, have moved on to the big river, while there're still some fish who decide to stay in the creek for the whole winter.  In summary, not all fish behaves the same, and you could still find some fish "in summer pattern" even in October.

I’m guessing you are somewhere up north lol, fall bite literally just kicked off here.

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18 hours ago, Ohioguy25 said:

I’m guessing you are somewhere up north lol, fall bite literally just kicked off here.

 

Yep, Harrisburg PA to be exact. I don't live close to the Susquehanna river anymore, but I also had more time to fish them tributary creeks these last couple years.

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23 hours ago, newapti5 said:

 

Yep, Harrisburg PA to be exact. I don't live close to the Susquehanna river anymore, but I also had more time to fish them tributary creeks these last couple years.

I meant north north, like Great Lakes region or Minnesota/Canada.  That’s crazy, I heard they are slaying them on the Susky right now. They just had the Bassmaster this weekend and people were catching almost 100”.

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5 hours ago, Ohioguy25 said:

I meant north north, like Great Lakes region or Minnesota/Canada.  That’s crazy, I heard they are slaying them on the Susky right now. They just had the Bassmaster this weekend and people were catching almost 100”.

 

Susky, yes. But I thought we were talking about the tributary creeks, which are not much now. Like I said, the majority of them are back to the big river. 

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4 hours ago, newapti5 said:

 

Susky, yes. But I thought we were talking about the tributary creeks, which are not much now. Like I said, the majority of them are back to the big river. 

Ah yeah, I guess the river I fish is the main river in question.

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