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brushcutter

Shallow Resevoir Smallies

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It's February and the water temp in the shallow resevoir I fish runs about 39 - 42. the average depth runs about 20 feet. Where am I going to find the smallmouth in this resevoir? I normally don't fish this time of year but I can't take it anymore I MUST FISH!

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I'd look for the deepest holes very close to the main current, but slack enough for them to stage, without expending a lot of energy. They are probably still in their winter patterns in preparation for their first move up stream. Finding them is the tough part. Especially with heavily stained water and without the use of an UW camera. If you do have one, your odds will improve dramatically. Find the fish....anchor within a short cast. Try a blade bait, barely twitched off the bottom, with a good 15 sec. pause inbetween. If that doesn't work, try slow rolling a spinnerbait or try a tail spinner. Be patient; as long as you know there are fish below you. Be persistent and you'll score.

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shafer and the water is stained and running high. I'm thinking creek mouths but it might be too early for that. the main river channel?

yea your creek channels probably would be the coldest water in the lake  this time of year maybe try around the dam or in bigger coves  

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Thanks for your input everyone. I've been fishing shafer for about eight years, but never at this time of year. I'm pretty familiar with it's channels and coves. Thanks again!

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only fished shafer a handful of times and never in the winter (cept between the lakes for walleye). I'd bust out the silver buddies and work main lake points near the river channel.. i'd suspect them to be suspended over deeper water.. Try the rip-rap on sunny days too, that should warm up the surrounding water.

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I agree with Crestliner2007 100%.

I would definately want to find the fish on a fishfinder first. You won't catch me fishing for these winter time fish without fining them first.

I wouldn't be a bit suprised if the fish were holding on the floor instead of being suspended.  If you don't easily spot these fish when scouting, look more closely at your fish finder and look for these fish laying on the ground.  I have spotted fish on the floor in my hom lake and they bite well.  I say this because 20 feet sounds shallow.  I do not know if they would want to stage shallower than that...Let me KNOW! and Good luck!

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I'm gonna go outside the box here, I'll explain:

I fish a shallow reservior here in PA also. When the ice first leaves the temp will be in the same range as you mentioned. This lake has lots of soft bottom shallow areas and coves that have quite a bit of wood cover, stumps, etc...The water is usually stained as well. I know the popular belief is that the fish will use staging areas ie...creek channels and ledges, near spawning areas. Due to the stained water I seem to be never able to locate fish in traditional "staging areas". In my experience the smallies will not suspend in stained water.

What I have found.....Go as shallow as you can. Yep, I said shallow as you can. Why? My experience has been that the shallow coves on the Northern end of the lake can be as much as 10 degrees warmer than the main lake. I have had days where the main lake was in the low to mid 40's and I've found coves in the low 50's. The stained water coupled with a soft bottom warms more quickly than the main lake water. The warmer water draws the bass looking to feed. All of this also depends on the weather and temperture trend 1 or 2 weeks prior to your day. If you have had 1 or 2 weeks of warm weather the coves will be warmer than the main lake. If it's been cold and it's the first day you get out you may find temps fairly even throughout the lake.

I will target any wood or rock cover in the coves or at the points leading to the coves. Cranks, spinnerbaits, jigs, tubes, are usually the workhorse baits for me. Presentation will depend on the how the fish react to my initial couple hours. I bump the wood with the cranks and spinnerbaits, if that is not producing fish I will switch to slower presentations with the tubes and jigs.

One more little thing......another little opinion, yes, fish will be moving up to areas where they want to spawn, BUT, they want to feed first. Warmer water draws their feed. I've also often found fish REALLY early in areas that they cannot spawn, it just won't support the nest because the bottom in silt or mud. A cove that has alot of feed but is not suitable for spawning CLOSE to suitable spawning area can be a goldmine.

Just my experience in chasing Northern cold blooded fish, hope it helps.

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