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Smallmouth bass in cold water

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I was reading another post, and read where the smallmouth don't shut down in the winter in Pa.  I have heard from others that they are in fact just like their green backed cousins, and they do indeed slow down and get lethargic in the winter time.  

Not many lakes in the area of Pa that I live in, have smallmouth in the lakes as well as largemouth.  Well, I found one with both large and smallmouth bass.  

My question is do smallies get lethargic during cold water periods in the winter?

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Maybe.

If you want to CATCH some smallmouth, live shinners are the ticket. Otherwise, fish a fly & float. You might pick up a couple.

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I was thinking of you RW as I typed out the post.

Live shiners, ok.  What is a float and fly?  Do I just put a a fly under a float?  Like a trout fly?

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where i live, washington, there is a lake that has some of the best smallie fishing in the state. it's important in winter to go deep with small presentations. i like to use drop shots with small 3" baits like a sniper snub (kinda like a senko). and deep is 40'+. this lake is also well known for plenty of 12"+ perch, and in the winter you have to go out to 100'+ to catch them  :o

a float & fly is a light bobber and jig system made for smallies. never used it...... kinda hard to use in 40' of water!!!

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hmmmm, I never heard of the float and fly thingy before tonight.  I have to look into it more.  The lake I am talking about doesn't come close to 100', or even 40'.  Maybe 20' at the deepest.  But I hear you, deep is where I need to go.  

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You are correct that smallies do become lethatrgic in the winter, However I believe that really only pertains to lakes (my opinion)

I fish the susquehanna river during the winter and can say with all confidence that smallies are not all that lethargic, at least in moving water. Think about this for a minute, in a lake the fish can just suspend off drops or points with very little or no effort at all. There is no current to "fight" thus no energy burned. In rivers, even the breaks and eddies still have some current and the fish will still have use energy up to stay there. The susquehanna has alot of deep pools but a stong current. I'm not saying it's a summer bite, you have to cover water to get fish but there are always active fish even in shallow water. They won't pass up an easy meal. If you want big smallies the winter is the time to get out. I never tried a float & fly rig but I think it would work. Crankbaits and tubes seem to be the best here in cold water. You won't catch quantity but the quality will be there.

Rob

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Dizzy hit it on the nose. For all of us that fish the Susquehanna River in PA., this is the best time of year,or at least one of them, to catch a trophy smallmouth. I have been guiding the Susky for a lot of years and have been fishing it since "83". Butch Ward--- I know this name will ring a bell with a lot of you---taught me a lot about winter fishing as well as me going by myself years ago and learning a lot by trial and error. I believe that they do get somewhat lethargic when the water gets around 38-40 but, find them in a small eddie and catching just one can be like stirring up a bees nest. They seem to come alive. Any current breaks,eddies,small islands etc. is the place to find these fish when it is cold. For me, tubes and hair jigs are the ticket. One rule I find to hold true is when the river is on the rise, fish the bank eddies. When falling fish the island eddies it seems. This river is awsome when it is cold, up, and muddy. You may only catch 20 or thirty or maybe less but the quality increases this time of year. Start at the tail of an eddie and work your way up and fish sloooooooow. Throw staight up into the slack provided and let your tube or jig come back to you. Don't be in a hurry to leave a spot either. The window is small and they won't chase your lure very far. I like the mini eddies this time of year the best, for example a log or some trash along the bank or maybe a large boulder creating a 2 or three foot eddie will hold some fish most of the time. Another good choice is bridge piers that block the current. Guys like Dizzy,me and all the rest  can tell you, if you know someone with a Jet Boat that invites you fishing this time of year on the Susky,go,go,go. You won't be sorry. Good luck Dizzy and the rest of you fishing the Susky.

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Alright, I planned on going out this weekrnd to hit up a couple lakes, and possibly the river too.  With the sleet/freezing rain, and snow coming in where would you fish for smallmouth?

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On my PS2! ;D

Funny. That isn't fishing IMO.

Especially that stupid rapala game.

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Guest whittler

Andy, if you have the option for smallies I will always pick moving water. Caught a 2 1/2lb smallie yesterday in the river in less than 18" of water, water temp was 46deg.

Go to the Indiana Smallmouth site and you will find a wealth of information on float&fly, lot of members fish Dale Hollow and Cumberland all winter and that is the chosen method.

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I would have to agree with Whittler. Hit the moving water. Your best chance at some smallies is in the river. I got out today and had a great day. I posted in the NE reports section with some pics. If you follow the advice in this post string you can't go wrong. Just don't be in a hurry to move while your on the water. The areas these fish hold in are very easy to miss by the "average angler"

(mini eddies) You can fish an entire bank and miss 50 % of the holding spots. You need to pick it apart from all directions. Look for the slower water areas on bends in the river. Here is a map of where I found fish today. Notice how the water is running into the bank. All the fish were caught between the red dots.%7Boption%7D

Good luck

Rob

post-6748-130163018069_thumb.jpg

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Thanks Rob.  I am going to get a map like the one you posted, and find a couple spots in the bend of the Allegheny river.  How deep were the smallies?  With this horrible weather coming in, I may not even get out his weekend, but if my car moves, Im going.

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All the fish I got today were in less than 2' of water. There are some suspended at 10' in 28' of water. The key is to find breaks in the river. Not just the ones you see on the bank. There could be a deep fast moving stretch that hits a flat and then drops again. Also fast is a relative term, You have to figure in water volume also. I gauge the speed or volume by using my trolling motor speeds. If I can hold the boat in the current at 50% and then drift a bit and it takes me 60 % to hold then i want to be fishing In 50%.

'This is the exact scenario I fished today. The river from the bridge runs 25-30' deep to the first red dot, it then comes up to 12' for about 50 yards. then it drops to 18'. Thats where the fish were staging. Right up tight to the bank on a small flat shelf 2' deep.

I was burning Bomber 6A cranks right off the bank. They would hit them about 4 turns into the retrieve.

Rob

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rivermap2.jpg

I don't have the boat ready yet, not until spring atleast.  So it'll be shore fishing for me.  

What do you think, A or B?  I'm thinking B, but the bend in that part of the river is around 1 mile at least.  Just a guess though.  I don't want to drive for hours just to get skunked, so either A or B are my options, and both are about 20 minutes away.

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I think that would be a good call if there are some deep to shallow areas on that bend. Try to work the bait casting to the middle not up or down. The fish should be looking upriver so you could possibly pull through some schools. Here is a better pic for you.

Rob

post-6748-130163018073_thumb.jpg

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Where in the world did you find that pic? I need to find some good pics like that one.  

Thanks for throwing that in there dizzy.

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You can get the program from Quakemap. Do a search for quakemap and you can download the program for free. If you buy a license for I think $25 you can unlock the program features. It's a great map program. I use it  for all my fishing. You can zoom in to abot 100 sq yards. I have the program now for about 6 years and have sattelite maps with gps waypoints for just about any body of water I fish. If you need some other help or have some more questions give me a call. 570-332-7237 I would be glad to help. I am usually up until 11 or 12.

Rob

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Outstanding job Dizzy. I use Quakmap as well. Your map of the area you were fishing was text book for this time of year, outside bend, etc. Do me a favor, throw a 1/4oz jighead with a dark melon purple flake tube in that area and tell me how you do. As I said, excellent job.

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