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I always hear people say that smallmouth will hit moving baits all the way down into the low 50s, but I have not found this to be the case at all


Ohioguy25

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I generally find them to be only actively chasing lures when the water is in the low 60s and upper 50s, and once it gets below 55 I have to really slow it to a crawl (jerkbait/finesse.)

 

Every time the notorious “fall bite” rolls around, I see all sorts of ideas start to fly. People insist they will eat topwater, spinnerbaits, swimbaits etc into the low 50s and upper 40s, many even proclaiming that this continues down to 45.   Yes I realize there are obvious exceptions, and worked slowly enough they will eat anything, even a rico or a spook but as a whole it’s just not consistent.
 

I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong but I have found this to be entirely inaccurate, and only really have success on Ned rig, tube, fluke, jerkbait etc at those temperatures. 

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I am actively trying to learn about this topic and how it applies to my rivers this time of year.  My water was upper 40s last week.  Im not catching huge numbers but I have been catching them on spinner baits, underspins and umbrella rig. I'm fishing rivers and they have been too choked with leaves to fish treble hooked baits.  I caught one today on a finesse jig but I was moving it along pretty fast.  I'm trying to find smallmouth on the upper end of impoundments and up into the feeding rivers.  It seems I have to go upstream to cleaner moving water before I get any bites.  If the leaves have cleared out a bit I'll be throwing jerkbaits next time out.

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I must admit that I find it difficult to believe that speed cranking can work in cold water and yet some really great fishermen have sucsess doing it.

It probably doesn't work for me because I give up on it too quickly. 

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  • BassResource.com Administrator

I've caught several 3+ pounders on small (3") Rapala minnows in 40-degree water.  No, not "upper 40's". I mean 40-41 degrees. Clear, moving water after a few days of stable weather was the key.

 

I've also caught some pigs in deep water (45+) dragging what is essentially a modified walleye rig, with the same small minnow on the end.  Yes, it's a brilliant way of getting small, shallow-diving crankbaits into deep water where the big girls lay in wait. Not my idea, but a good friend taught me that little trick.

 

Again, a few days of stable weather is the key.  But current is not a factor in the above scenario.

 

In both cases, fast-moving lures were critical.  They wouldn't hit them if they were crawled.

 

 

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For me in the susky I feel them pick it right up off the bottom this time of year Tube, ned, mr twister. Moving baits never seem to be the ticket here sub 50 water temp. Jerkbaits even tend to fall to the wayside for me too.

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9 hours ago, Glenn said:

In both cases, fast-moving lures were critical.  They wouldn't hit them if they were crawled.

 

I think a lot of people underestimate how fast fish can move – in almost any water temperature – when they're properly motivated.

 

Once you find the fish, you have to listen to what they're telling you.

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I live way north and fish in November  so I fish when the water is cold.  It depends on the weather.  A nice warming trend with each day 1 or 2 degrees warmer and no wind is ideal.  I can catch smallmouth on the surface then or using jerkbaits.  I find them in a couple of feet of water warming themselves. They will also bite slow moving lures.

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18 hours ago, Glenn said:

I've caught several 3+ pounders on small (3") Rapala minnows in 40-degree water.  No, not "upper 40's". I mean 40-41 degrees. Clear, moving water after a few days of stable weather was the key.

 

I've also caught some pigs in deep water (45+) dragging what is essentially a modified walleye rig, with the same small minnow on the end.  Yes, it's a brilliant way of getting small, shallow-diving crankbaits into deep water where the big girls lay in wait. Not my idea, but a good friend taught me that little trick.

 

Again, a few days of stable weather is the key.  But current is not a factor in the above scenario.

 

In both cases, fast-moving lures were critical.  They wouldn't hit them if they were crawled.

 

 

I don’t think these tactics really match the pattern I’m describing, reaction strikes or putting it right in their face is not quite the same as chasing.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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I will find out tomorrow. The water temps should be in the low 50's. I will burning a Tactical DD 75 in about 15-20 feet of water, ripping some jerkbaits and some small minnow baits. If that doesn't work, I will switch over to wacky rigged senkos and a A-rig. Last resort, I will hit the 20-30 foot mark with an OSP Blitz Magnum EX-DR. 

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@Ohioguy25 maybe river smallmouth behave differently than their lake cousins.  You didn't specify which ones you were targeting, but I am pretty sure you are a river guy.

 

I never had any success in rivers once temps started to drop.  The best bite was midsummer in July and August here when the water was bathtub warm.  I fished aggressively with topwater and other faster moving lures.  This was in a smaller, swift-moving river, not a big reservoir or impoundment.

 

Exact opposite in the lake.  Midsummer is offshore drop shot time for the scopers.  That is definitely not me.  So I wait until the temps drop and then target them with more aggressive tactics.  This past fall I did really well in early October when the water temps were in the mid 50's.  @Dwight Hottle mentioned earlier this fall that I should be targeting smallmouth when the water temps are similar to what they were in the spring during pre-spawn and sure enough, mid 50's was exactly when it was productive in both the spring and fall.

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