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Thread: Winter Smallmouthing

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  1. #1

    Default Winter Smallmouthing

    Tomorrow's high is supposed to be a balmy 70F, with temps staying above 50F tonight. Following last week, when several days struggled to break the freezing mark, this is a welcome change in the weather, however shortlived it might be.

    As a result of the warm-up, I intend to spend at least a little time at my backyard creek (http://www.flyanglersonline.com/bb/s...ing-Smallmouth) to prove that the smallmouth and sunfish do not abandon the stream during the winter. The last fish I caught was November 2 and the water temperature dropped significantly shortly afterward. In other years, I don't believe I have ever caught a fish in this stream during the months of November-February.

    My planned approach is to use a float-n-fly in the moderate depth eddies along the bank and behind bolders, with a virtual non-retrieve. The fly may vary, but will probably be a deer hair or bucktail streamer of some sort in dull colors to match the brown and gray minnows that are around. I will be most available in the hour after dawn and several hours after dusk, though I may have a chance to sneak down during the day at some point.

    If anyone has additional advice about flies, techniques, time of day, etc., I'd love to hear it. Time is of the essence, Sunday's high is forecast to be 33F with freezing rain. Wish me luck.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Portage, PA


    I've fished for smallmouths during the warms months, but never in the winter. I'd like to go this year. From what I've read the fish will be positioned in the deeper holes. I have a book by Tim Holschlag that describes winter fishing. It's a good book. Give it a try. Google it and you'll find it.

  3. #3


    Thanks for the tip. I have Holschlag's book on my nightstand, I checked it out from the library a couple of weeks ago so I could re-read it.

  4. #4


    No luck.

    I visited the river three times, twice with a fly rod. Thursday morning was warm and humid, water temperature was 46F. The minnows were very active, and one fish broke the surface in a large pool, may have been a sunfish. The minnows assualted my strike indicator repeatedly. I spent about an hour and covered about 200 yards of water, including 3 promising pools.

    Thursday afternoon I had only time for about 3 casts. The water temperature was 49F, skies were overcast.

    Thursday night I went down briefly after dark with a flashlight, but no fly rod or thermometer. Minnows were resting along the bank in shallow, still water. One fish about 8" long was in slightly deeper water and stationary, I couldn't identify it, it might have been a chub. A number of small bugs were swarming around my light, and there were wolf spiders all over the ground.

    Friday I went to a different stream, but with similar size and species present. The water temperature was up to 52F and the water was getting murky from intermittent showers. There was lots of leaves and debris in the water, but visibility was still about 2 feet. It was about midday, and I only had about 20 minutes. I spent all of my time on one pool. No signs of fish.

    The temperature is supposed to make a long slide from Friday afternoon about 70F to Sunday morning about 29F, with Saturday's high happening at midnight Friday night. There will also be rain, snow, sleet, and freezing rain during that time. I'll probably try again at the next warm-up, maybe hit some different pools.
    And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. Ezekiel 47:9

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