Winter River Smallmouth Bass

Frozen water, snow, ice, and cold conditions spell the end to a good season, but when mother nature holds off in December and brings water temperatures around or above the 40 degree mark, bass angling opportunities are still available if you look towards river systems. Smallmouth bass head away from the current and look for deeper slack water in a river when the water temp drops to the frigid range. Although the Smallmouth Bass can take the colder water better than Largemouth, even the metabolism of a Smallmouth slows down to where they do not feed as much and look for any type of cover that breaks the current to where they have to spend the least amount of energy. In a river system, look for the deeper pools down stream from fast water. In many cases the smallmouth will travel a long way to these winter holes.  In these waters you will find logs, rocks, and anything that has washed downstream over time and all of which will hold bass that are burried up tight to the cover. A snarle of logs and trees in 20 feet of water can be a great spot this time of year. The prey during the winter for smallmouth include crayfish, baitfish, and suckers. I would recommend plastics that mimic the size of bait they feed on. Smaller lures may be more productive if replicating crayfish but I have seen them feed on suckers up to 5″ long. Color selection is important also. Water color and sky conditions should be taken into consideration when selecting your bait as well. Natural colors (orange) can be productive all fall and winter.  Had the opportunity to hit the upper Allegheny River system with Ken and Ernie Pate again this year… had some great days with numbers and size of trophy Smallmouth Bass… skinard

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