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Carmen J Bernardo

Q: Small Stream Smallies In Late Autumn?

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  I have a question here: Where do you look for small stream smallies in late autumn?

  I fish the Brandywine in downtown Wilmington (DE) and upstream from there and have had some luck with smallmouth bass in there a few times over the summer.  At that time, they'd be slamming spinner jigs or small spoons dressed with soft plastic baits in pools where the current appeared to be broken by large rocks or bridge pilings.  Another good place was out of a brushpile (a blowdown) lying just inside the mouth of a feeder stream in the Piedmont hills at the State Park halfway towards PA.

  However, when I went to the parks two and three days following that series of Nor'easters which blew through the area last weekend, I got no bites and couldn't make out anything following the lures around like was happening during the summer months.  The water was still coming down from whatever high it reached during the rains and visibility was somewhat cloudy, but just enough to reduce visibility at mid-stream to about a foot or so.  The current was pretty swift, though.  I also think that the temperatures had fallen into the 30s Fº overnight with one night leaving frost on the windshields.  Did this put an end to the feeding frenzy?

  Also, as winter approaches, I'd like to know where smallies hold out and what works best in streams like the Brandywine.  When the water is running a little swift, what are your suggestions for presenting a lure to slow biters?  It seems to me that finding pools and rigging a way to suspend a flashy vibrator bait for extended periods near suspended fish would be the way to go.

  I recall fishing microspoons amidst rip-raps at the base of a bridge over the White Clay creek some years back and managing to coax a few small fry into striking by letting the spoons drop in between a few gaps in the rocks, so I can guess that similar methods would work to a larger scale...

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Wintering smallies in small streams are going to be headed directly for the dams - OR - deepest, stable water they can find. If that water is adjacent to current, so much the better, but they will definitely stage where they do not have to fight it directly.

Their metabolism slows, but the do eat. What to use in these circumstances varies tremendously, but one of my most productive presentations would involve a 3" or 4" wacky rigged Senko on light line, cast upstream of your target and allowed to slowly drift into it.

If the water you are fishing is not too "snaggy" you could get away with a small Mepps spinner too. Good Luck!  ;)

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My best producing cold water bait for smallies in small rivers and creeks were this crappie tubes on 1/32 and 1/16 oz tube heads:

http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp?id=0000502112374a&type=product&cmCat=SEARCH_all&returnPage=search-results1.jsp&Ntk=Products&QueryText=crappie+tubes&sort=all&Go.y=12&_D%3AhasJS=+&N=0&Nty=1&hasJS=true&Go.x=19&_DARGS=%2Fcabelas%2Fen%2Fcommon%2Fsearch%2Fsearch-box.jsp.form23&_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1

As Crestliner stated, look for the deepest holes with just a bit of current, fancast and swim back the minow tube very close to the bottom with little shakes, stops and short jerks. You could use other brands, too. I used three basic colors: shad , something greenesh and something brownish (see which works better in your river)

Also, 3" stickbaits on a split shot rig (strait or wackie) or weightless, if the current is not to strong.

You could try 2-3" fluke stile/minnow immitators on small jigs, close to bottom.

I fished them on 6-0 ML/Fast rod with 4lb line

Good luck

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