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VersatileFuturian

Spring Mud

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I am trying to figure out how to catch these smallies. Every year in the spring there are a lot of tournaments I am in on the Ohio River and we get those spring rains and the water gets really muddy and swift. I can catch a few smallies sometimes on black tubes but thats about it. The area I fish only has a few small backwaters that will get packed with a lot of boats in a 150 boat field trying to catch largemouths. So those largemouths get too much pressure and won't hold up for 2 days. So I need to figure out how to catch those smallmouths in the mud. Once the mud is gone I can tear the big smallies up consistantly. Any suggestions?

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Go on non tournament days, during similar conditions, in the areas that you will be fishing in during competition. Now is your chance to gain experience. Try Chatterbaits, big single blade spinnerbaits, something with a lot of vibration. Noisy buzzbaits, are worth giving a shot. You will kick butt the lazy guys that stay home.  ;)

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There's a ton of information here and a lot of good people. Use the search button, if you can't find what you are looking for ask, whatever it is someone will have the answer.

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What's the usual water temps and how far down can you see a white lure? May have some hope for you if I know the specific conditions.

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The conditions you're describing are about as tough as it ges for river smallmouth fishing. You can't expect to do awesome on days like that.

But you can still catch fish.

I look for shallow, protected, slow moving water. Look for water thats three feet deep or less. If there is fish there, they will be active and (hopefullly) there will be enough light penetration that they can see your jig. Lots of sun will help your cause. I like to use a black, 4 inch tube on a 1/4 oz head, dragged on the bottom with lots of pauses.

Look for flooded trees on the bank, flooded banks with grass, the up stream ends of calm, slow-moving eddies,the downstream ends of islands and calm protected coves (particularly ones used for wintering). Again, look for featues like these that are shallow and getting good sun.

Hope this helps.

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I would still like to know the water temps, but Susky is right on with the sun, slow current, and shallow cover.  Of course, if larger rocks are available out of current I'd check those out too with the mentioned tubes and rattle jigs. Even in the lower 40's a spinnerbait with a light head (1/4) and a fairly big #5 Colorado gold blade can be good  with a black or standard white skirt. Fish it slowly fluttering it around all the cover repeating casts to the same area. Lots of times in these conditions, it takes a fish a couple of looks to get it to hit.  I'd also use heavy line to slow the sink of the bait, and make sure I capiotalized on those few bites.

There is an obvious reason why all the backwaters are being fished then, but if the water temps are rising into the 50's other areas besides the backwaters could be just as productive I would wager, particularly, if they are not being fished.

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Just remember, fish can see in water a much greater distance than humans can. 8" water visibility probably translates to a couple of feet or more to a fish. And don't forget their lateral line.

Slow roll a rattletrap type bait and see what happens. Large spinnerbaits presented in similar fashion can usually be effective as well. And something I've never tried - yet - but plan to: chatterbait jigs!

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I have a few smallmouth lakes that are pea soup for most of the year. You might have even fished the best one? Chautauqua? I know some Ohio guys get over there every now and then. Best inland lake for 5+lb smallies that I have ever been on...Best muddy water bait?- Big Yamamoto Flappin' Hog :-X...That thing moves 3 times as much water as a tube, and is a smallie killer.

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There was a great article about fishing for smallmouth in very cold muddy water in the latest Bass Angler magazine - it was in Oregon but bass are bass - they used center pin outfits to float small hair jigs for long distances and slay big small mouth- I can't wait to try it on the new, elk, ohio etc.

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