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justfishin

Winter smallies and cold water.

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I have been talking back and forth with a member in here, Cory, and he seems like a great guy wanting to learn some area's here in MD. Anyhow, he had asked about cold water smallies and I gave him a very brief idea of how I do it, or some of us anyhow. I try not to post too much anymore but, hey, winters coming so I am just trying to help. You can add this technique for winter fishing on the low, fast river type area's or leave it. I will say its been a technique that has caught me thousands of smallies over the years so.........

Cory,

Thanks, I am hanging in there somehow. As far as cold water smallies its a real simple formula. I sure don't take credit for perfecting this technique I use. I was forturnate to become friends with a guy whom guided for a long time, as I did, and we became friends. He fished with Lefty Kreh, and they sort of put it together. My friend Butch is gone now but, I have caught some big smallies over the years fishing like this. When the winter is cold and the water is stable at say 38-45 we get below the eddies and throw tubes and hair jigs up into them. I only use a couple of color tubes. By far my two favorite are the 3 1/2" BPS Salty Tubes in Green Pumpkin/Red Flake and Dark Melon/ Purple Flake, usually with a 1/8 or 1/4 jighead and rattle inserted. I make my own jigs and rattles. I tie my hair jigs mostly on a 1/4 in black or green made with deer hair and a Uncle Josh 101 Pork Frog. We start at the tail of the eddy and work our way up via trolling motor ( I use a 36volt system ). Slooooooooww is key here. If you think you are fishing too slow, slow down even more. Also, this is not a scenario for heavy line. I think the best is #8 test. A good strong hookset is also imperitive as their mouth gets very hard in the cold water. Multiple cast to target small areas are also, key. I never move a jig more than a few inches at a time in winter at water temps as cold as I had described. Sometimes just a deadstick technique with a little shake works. I pull them in with a mouth full of sticks and leaves a lot of times because they will just suck your bait in and sit on it in one spot. Rarely will you feel the bite. Its mostly a mushy or weightless feeling. The optimum scenario is heavy melting of snow or flooding and fishing the eddies along the bank. Muddy water is perfect. Anything breaking the current and creating a eddy running around 4-8 feet is perfect. Maybe a log jam, small island, boulders, small points, on the outside river bends are optimum. The smaller eddies might only be 2 - 4 feet in dia but, they always seem to hold one or two fish. A big eddy say in the 4' wide x 20' long are good as well but, the smaller ones are the best. I will run up river looking for these eddies created by high water and get below them where the water speeds up again and throw or flip straight up into them, sometimes the side of my boat is on the bank. I will hop from one to the next all day. A critical factor is stable water. On the rise is perfect, falling: stay home, water temps rising 2-4 degrees in winter is perfect. A cold front and water temp drop of even 2 degrees: stay home. Of course these are just baselines and sometimes the bass can surprise you but, day in and day out this has been a numbers and big smallie way to fish for me. Good luck.

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Yes, but not in the scenario I am talking about. Very, very fast water and very cold and very muddy color is what I am talking about. Jerkbaits are a good winter bait but, I feel its not a good choice in fast moving river water in those low temp ranges while fishing the type of eddie fishing I had described. The flooded areas are usually pretty trashy as well, and a treble hook is not a option. Seems here in MD, around the Christmas holiday to ice up is the best time. Be prepared with dry cloths, cell in a waterproof container, cushion and throw rope, anchor in case you lose power ( you don't want to be at the mercy of the water in these conditions ), alway tell someone of the area you are fishing, flares and any other common sense items. Always wear your life jacket at all times and keep your kill switch hooked up while running.

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Yes, but not in the scenario I am talking about. Very, very fast water and very cold and choclate color is what I am talking about. Jerkbaits are a good winter bait but, I feel its not a good choice in fast moving river water in those low temp ranges while fishing eddies.

ahhh I see, the ole jerk n twitch probably wouldn't work to good in that situation ;)

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Let me make something clear before I get myself in trouble here. All rivers are different. The Susquehanna in Pa, the Upper Potomac in Md, Pickwick, Wilson, Allegheny, etc, all have their idiosyncrysys and all fish different. Forage, dams water releases, wide, narrow, deep, shallow and everything in between help create tactics toward your approach on smallie fishing on them. The tactic I have given are mainly for the Susquehanna and Upper Potomac. I think it will work on some othere rivers, as well, on certain occasions but, by no means what my opinion is on river smallies in my local rivers the only way to approach your fishing, and I did not mean it that way. It just worked for me during all those years guiding, thats all. There are way too many variables to change things on any given day. Each day is a new one when fishing for smallies and sometimes they don't go by the rules. Have a great fall and winter season and stay safe---Jim :)

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Great thread!

I don't think you need the disclaimer, bass are bass and the technique you described should be effective anywhere. The point you made about water rising or falling just can't be emphasized enough, falling water is the kiss of death.

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You got that right RW, it is for me. When the river is on the fall you can catch them, but from my experiance you are better off staying home. I am a terrible fisherman on the falling water table and bluebird skys. Both of these scenarios are the kiss of death for me, thats for sure. :)

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Yes, excellent thread. I know I raised a little stink in the thread you removed but in this one you perfectly described the conditions and way you succeed in fishing them.

Kudos

By the way, I still wouldn't fish thise rapids you pictured in the first post, no way..... not me ;)

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