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5150bass

River Smallies

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I fish a fairly big river for smallmouth bass.  What would be your main type of spots you would focus on?  Also, what would be your top choices of lures to try?

Thanks guys,

5150bass

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In the winter,I would definitely stick to the deepest "holes" you can find,that's where fish will stack in cold water.A small jerkbait is the #1 choice,cast across the hole,rip it hard and fast (to get it down) and when it gets to the strike zone,kill it and dont move it for several seconds,then rip it again and kill it again.

If that doesnt get you bit,try the 'ol carolina rig with a 4" straight worm worked as slow as your patience will allow.Adjust your leader length to get it right on their noses.It takes them a while to bite sometimes when they're cold.

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I've seen Ken Penrod, a Potomac river smallie guide/expert, at a few seminars over the past few years. He targets deeper eddies with some cover during the winter time. He tends to use 4" tubes with as little as weight as possible. His theory on this is that bigger smallies are females and they are conserving as much as their energy for the spawn in the spring so large, slow moving lures work the best. I've also targeted power plant discharge areas this time of year as well. I can use a little more aggressive lures since the water is warmer but I still target the same areas that I mentioned above. Hope this helps!

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Smallmouth relate to structure and current. I drift live shiners on a split shot rig from five to fifteen yards off the river bank, in five to thirty feet of water. The key is staying on or very near the bottom.

We position the boat so that we can cast to or very near the bank. Cast straight out from the boat and fish at no more than a forty-five degree angle upstream, never down stream. Your goal is to drift the minnow and the boat at the same speed so that your bait looks as natural as possible. We buy the biggest minnows we can find and fish them on spinning tackle, #4 or #6 Yo-Zuri Hybrid Ultra Soft , #6 Gamakatsu Octopus Circle Hooks and #4 or #5 split shot.

Big smallmouth are generally caught were you find large rocks, transition, drop-offs, holes and ledges. We always catch them in current, sometimes near eddies, but never in slack water. Current is required on the river to stimulate baitfish and the predators. If you don't have current you might as well stay home.

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Thanks guys, good info.

We always catch them in current, sometimes near eddies, but never in slack water. Current is required on the river to stimulate baitfish and the predators. If you don't have current you might as well stay home.

roadwarrior

In the river I fish, the areas that have current will always have current.  So should be concentrating on areas with current throughout all seasons, and not bother with the sections of the river with no current?  And then like you said find structure in the current areas?

Thanks again

5150bass

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Well, I fish the Tennessee River and the current is determined by water release from the dams on the river. Release schedules are a function of power needs and are determined by the TVA. The water flow varies considerably from week to week. If you are fishing a "free flowing" river, you always have current. What you consider slow water will still produce smallmouth. The water does not have to be fast moving, it just needs to be moving.

Although I fish both sides of the river and from just below the dam to several miles downstream, the vast majority of our catch is associated with some type of structure or transition. In the spring this includes the middle of the river along the channel break or drop. Rock piles, boulders, gravel flats, rip-rap, ledges, ridges, humps and holes all have the potential to hold smallmouth. Look for "structure" broadly defined. For me, that means fishing long sections of the river not just particular spots.

The places I don't fish are mud bottoms and coves or creek tributaries. Smallmouth may stage at transition and at the mouth of a creek, but will not be up in it. I fish around eddies, but not in the slack water. We're looking for moving water and hard bottoms scattered with places for smallies to hide and ambush their prey.

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RW hit it on the head.A couple of lures we use in the winter(mainly when we have current)is a 3 1/2 in.tube with a 1/4oz. slide in head and a Bandit 300 crankbait in a chartuese color.Smallies love chartuese!I use a smoke color tube or a green pumkin with the skirt dyed chartuese. Good Luck!

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