Susquehanna River Fishing Forum

Susquehanna River, Questions & Comments => Susquehanna River Smallmouth Bass => Topic started by: bjones on November 22, 2017, 03:58:07 AM

Title: how late into Dec and beyond?
Post by: bjones on November 22, 2017, 03:58:07 AM
I'm new to river fishing for smallmouth.  Wondering how late into winter, can one reasonably expect to catch river smallmouth? I get it that a warming trend is a good sign, but how warm does it have to get for how long, to turn on the bite? I realize there is no hard and fast answer to such a question; I'd just appreciate your thoughts on the subject? And if/when you do fish in the winter (before icing up), what lures and techniques do you recommend?
Thanks much. This is a great forum!
Title: Re: how late into Dec and beyond?
Post by: DRY on November 22, 2017, 07:47:14 AM
For 40 years I have lived near a warm water discharge. Find one of those and you can fish 24/7, all year. Even a few degrees of warmth coming from any source will increase your odds. Do a search for such discharges in your area.

Unfortunately, my warm water discharge stopped several years ago.

But I have found out that...if the shoreline doesn't freeze up making access dangerous...I can catch smallmouth in very cold water (34F).

The secret is (1) to fish the artificial bait on the bottom very, very, sloooooow!! (2) use very small profile artificial more than 2-3 inches long and in a very slender profile.

If you find the weather takes a warming trend you might even entice them with a small suspending jerkbait fished slow.

I'll be fishing (wading) right through Dec - March. And I am told there is a possibility the power plant may come back on line but the warm water discharge will be reduced by 90%. Even a little warm water helps the winter fisherman.


Title: Re: how late into Dec and beyond?
Post by: Quinteman on November 22, 2017, 09:26:22 AM
This is helpful!
Title: Re: how late into Dec and beyond?
Post by: fishfinder on November 22, 2017, 11:01:54 AM
If I may add a little to Bill's great tips...find areas on the river where there's not a lot of current such as pools or shoreline eddys and fish em slow, even a deadstick  (just let it sit) presentation. My top three styles of baits for winter are smaller minnow profile baits, crawfish imitations and darker color hair jigs. The reduced snag jigs such as Wincos "flutter head jig" and Confidence baits " draggin head" are hands down the best lead jig for fishing the bottom. Good luck and fish on.
Title: Re: how late into Dec and beyond?
Post by: bjones on November 23, 2017, 03:16:17 AM
This is great info!! Thank you very much!
Title: Re: how late into Dec and beyond?
Post by: brownmk19 on November 23, 2017, 09:02:12 PM
In my humble opinion, the time of year isn't really relevant, rather the smallmouth's activity level is highly influenced by water temperature. I caught one of my best Susky smallmouths to date in the middle of February, during a three day thaw period during which air temps peaked into the mid 40's. In other words, as long as you get even a slight warming trend, that can spur some really great bass fishing, especially in late winter/very early spring! When water temps creep into the high 30's and lower 40's - that's when I go fishing for bass.......even if that happens to occur in the middle of January. Some of my best fishing each year, for me at least, generally occurs during two distinct time frames: late fall and early spring/late winter. It's during these times that some of the biggest fish in the system can be caught as well, in my opinion. During both of these time frames, water temps are generally hovering in the lower 40's. Without giving away too much, it's also my opinion that during these times, nearly 80 percent of the smallmouth.......can be found in about 20 percent of the water. They tend to be rather concentrated, instead of spread out as they seem to be during most of the rest of the year.

As far as lures go, small and compact profiles are what you're looking for: hair jigs, small bucktails, small tubes, etc. Fish them SLOWLY.

That's just my observations, I'm no's just what my experiences seem to indicate. I got some slammer smallmouth the past two weeks as the fishing has been on fire! I've got to upload the pictures to IMGUR and try to get them posted here! Hopefully, tomorrow.

Hope this helps. Good luck!
Title: Re: how late into Dec and beyond?
Post by: bjones on November 24, 2017, 05:10:45 AM
Excellent info! Greatly appreciated!!
Title: Re: how late into Dec and beyond?
Post by: Responsible_Angler on November 24, 2017, 07:24:42 AM
DRY and brownmk19  pretty much summed it all up in their recent posts. I also try to find an eddy that gets hit by the sun almost all day long which spikes the water temp a few degrees. Its the opposite of summer fishing. In summer the sun is your enemy as you want dark cloudy days and in winter the sun is your friend.  When you find that honey hole eddy the active feeding fish will slide out from the still or back flow moving water to the current seam to do their feeding.  Concentrate on that slow moving current seam and winter fishing becomes fairly easy if you have the patience to let your lure sit there for minutes at a time. There is also a window of feeding activity which is 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM.  95% of all your winter fish will be caught in that window.
Title: Re: how late into Dec and beyond?
Post by: bjones on November 27, 2017, 03:18:41 AM
thanks for sharing such great insights and expertise!!