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Cold temperatures keep smallmouths in hiding

March 20, 2005|by BILL ANDERSON

The early spring has always been known as a great time for taking big river smallmouth bass. This year, the river fishermen report that the early spring fishing has been tough. The rivers are running pretty full, but are cold as a result of all of the cool weather this early spring.

Water levels and water temperatures are the key factors at this time of year. When the rivers are at spring levels, many of the fish will move into shoreline eddy areas to avoid the heaviest current. Some eddies are much better than others, and that is why prime spots are a closely held secret.

For the most part, eddy fishing means jig fishing. There are good reasons why jigs work well, but I have always thought with the bass feeding mostly on crayfish at this time, a jig is good imitation.

For many years, a bucktail jig and pork rind trailer was the standard lure for early spring smallmouth bass. In recent years, the plastic jigs - especially the tube lures - are more popular. Other plastic jig types include basic plastic grubs and skirted plastic jigs.

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Presentation is probably even more important than the lure used. Another overlooked factor is boat positioning. The usual approach is to position the boat on the downstream side of the eddy and cast upstream. The lure is cast to the upper edge of the eddy and worked downstream, keeping it near the bottom.

Strikes are usually subtle and you need to stay very focused on "feeling" the lure as you work it back through the eddy. Jig fishing is much like nymph fishing for trout in that it takes some practice to master.

Water temperature is a big key to this type fishing and when we get some warm nights or warm rains, the fishing will likely get better.




Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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