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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

An honor

So I was honored to have my photo with a nice bass and the Aetos Fly Rod and Pflueger Patriarc Reel featured on Plueger's Facebook page. If you don't mind follow the link below to their page and show me some love by "liking" my post. Thanks!!!!
Link to pflueger's page



Monday, September 26, 2016

a long strange trip

So I had three days off. To hunt the opening of Ohio's archery deer season. Just one little problem it was supposed to be in the upper 80's. That's just too hot to deer hunt and enjoy it if you ask me, so I did what comes naturally to me, I fished a lot . I concentrated on the Ohio river and tributaries from Meldhal to Markland. Sat was almost too hot to fish. I spent most of it waist deep trying not to melt. I caught several small hybrids a few channelcats and four or five small smallmouth. Sunday was better. Over the course of the day I caught around ten hybrids, again all smaller, topping out at maybe 20 inches, plus five or six smallmouth. In the last hour of day things got exciting. I was fishing the Prop R topwater and it seemed like a concrete block was thrown on the plug but I never hooked up. Then a fish knocked the plug two feet in the air and again no hookup. Then a good fish hit, probably 24 or 25 inches. As I beached the fish the hooked popped out in like three inches of water with the fish lying on it's side. I fell to my knees trying to grab the fish but it flopped a couple times and was gone! The very next cast a fish slashed at the topwater and was hooked solid. Jump, then another, holy cow it's a smallmouth! A very very long smallmouth. I slipped off the backpack fumbling in the fast darkening light for the tape measure. With the tail pinched right at 20 inches!!!! And very skinny, nothing like the LMR or GMR smallies I was used to. This was for sure the lightest fish this long I've ever caught. With a big head and all that length I wonder how old that fish is. No Fish Ohio though this fish was in southern Indiana. I've never managed a smallie anywhere close to the length of this fish out of the main stem of the Ohio and I was thrilled with the fish. The year of the smallmouth continues...
The next day I was privileged to fish a river about five miles up from the Ohio with two great guys. I forgot to ask them if I could mention their names so I'll just call them Mr. X and Mr. Y. These guys take their hybrids as seriously as I do my smallmouth and it was awesome to fish and talk fishing with them. They also went out of their way to make sure the dumb smallmouth fisherman caught some nice hybrids. Believe it or not the big hybrid in my photo wasn't even the biggest of the day. Mr Y caught one just as big or bigger and Mr. X caught a huge one that was one of the biggest I've ever seen in person. It was a helluva day and a great ending to a great adventure..




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It's a holy day on the river

September 22nd is the Fall Equinox, the single most important day of the year for river bass fishing...

The thing I probably get the most questions about in all of my fishing is how I locate bass in the fall. Fishermen say that they constantly hear how good smallmouth bass fishing is in the fall but that they just can't catch them or they are only catching dinks. Well here's how I locate smallies in the fall. Smallmouth migrate to the best possible places they can find to spend the winter. This may only be hundreds of yards or it might be ten miles or more. This is triggered by length of day. Dr. Mark Ridgeway, a research scientist for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources found that a smallmouth migration away from classic summer habitat begins, each year, within a week to 10 days of the autumnal equinox in September. This means that day length, not water temperature is the reason for smallmouth bass fall movements. I think we are right at the point where some smallmouth in our streams migrate and some "concentrate". In small streams there just isn't the big holes or deeper backwaters that allow smallmouth protection from high water events in cold weather. These fish have to migrate, sometimes all the way out of that little creek and into the river. Some rivers like the Little Miami or Brush Creek probably have fish doing both, migrating from shallow sections like in much of the upper river and just concentrating in the sections that have enough good wintering holes like say the lower middle section of the river. Bigger rivers like the Great Miami or the Scioto and even some of the long riffle-less sections of smaller streams like Scioto Brush Creek have more "concentrating" fish. That is the fish concentrate in big slackwater eddies and pools. Either way you are looking for the same habitat. Which is, to paint it with a broad brush, somewhere that protects a smallmouth from current in all flows. It cannot be somewhere that protects a fish most of the time but really blows out in a flood and it can't be somewhere so shallow that the fish is too exposed in frigid weather either. Most of the time this is the deepest hole in that river section but not always, I know of two spots that give up big winter smallmouth that are only eight or nine feet deep most of the time, but they always have at least a portion of them out of the current all the time. 
But there are two parts to the puzzle, just as you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink, whether or not they then bite is related to water temperature. When the water temperature sinks to 60 degrees and below that seems to be a trigger point. From then till the river hits 50 degrees the smallmouth are in overdrive feeding the strongest they do all year. So the great fishing lasts as long as the water stays above about 52. If that's a week, its a week if its a month then the fishing is great for a month. 
So between the smallmouth migration and water temps you need a couple things you might have not used all year. The number one tool for finding smallmouth bass wintering holes in the LMR is a good online satellite mapping site like Google Maps. Your looking for big bends and deep eddies with complex structure nearby. The deepest biggest holes you can find. Some of these can be places in town "fished out" during the summer, it doesn't matter your fishing for fish that might have came from miles away. Sometimes you just have to make a list of possibilities and head out to check them in person. Like I said the bass will migrate as far as it takes so you can't think well maybe this is good enough. Now until the water actually hits 50 to 53 the bass might not be right in that wintering hole, more than likely they will not be. They will instead be somewhere on the first two or three riffles either upstream or down feeding like gangbusters. The two best places I know have both the deep complex structure and a really good hard bottomed riffle with a hard bottom and no silt between the feeding area and the hole even though in one case its 150 yards between the two. So obviously a thermometer is a great tool is seeing where things are at. Above 60 you can expect bass to be in transition between summer and fall patterns. While the September equinox usually occurs on September 22 or 23, it can very rarely fall on September 21 or September 24. A September 21 equinox has not occurred since 1000 CE, but will happen twice in the 21st century –in 2092 and 2096 in. The last September 24 equinox occurred in 1931. It will next take place in 2303.On any other day of the year, the Earth's axis tilts a little away from or towards the Sun. But on the equinox the Earth's axis tilts neither away from nor towards the Sun. That's when the sun will be shining directly on the Earth's equator, bringing almost the same exact amount of daylight and darkness all around the world on that day, which is known as the autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere and the spring equinox in the southern hemisphere. So sometime within a week of that expect them to come pouring into those fall feeding riffles depending on temps. Not every smallmouth migrates at exactly the same time so you can still catch bass elsewhere in the river as they stop to feed while migrating but the real action will be in those good riffles close to wintering holes starting about the second week in September and getting better and better if the weather cooperates until the water cools below 50 to 53 degrees. After that you have to fish slooow down in the deep wintering holes to get much action. Sometimes a warm day will warm things a degree or two and you can sometimes catch a smallmouth or two on a hair jig fished almost motionless under a float. Just let the current swirl it around the hole and try to impart as little movement to the lure as you can. This can result in some of the best fish of the year but it also results in a big number of fishless days too.

Another thing to keep in mind when fishing thru the fall is that as the water cools crayfish become less and less active. So as the smallmouth feed heavily preparing for winter their favorite meal becomes less and less available. Because of this the bass begin to transition to more of a "minnow" bite that a "crayfish" bite in the fall. Personally I think the very biggest smallmouth in southern Ohio are always on a bit more of a minnow bite all year round. Research has shown the the biggest bass select smaller crayfish over larger ones every time. Smaller less experienced bass are not as picky and will fight a bigger crayfish. So that 20 incher we are after has to catch three or four small crayfish to get the same amount of food as she will get with one big shiner. So not only does she have to put out more effort by catching 3 things instead of 1 but those 3 things fight back. And an ounce of crayfish has less calories than an ounce of an oily baitfish and it takes more calories to digest because of the crayfishes exoskeleton. Given the choice I think a trophy bass prefers sushi. Obviously some sections of rivers and a lot of our creeks are crawling with tons of crayfish and everything revolves around them but a lot of our streams have considerably less crayfish and ton and tons of minnows. Think about the streams where you wade and see nothing but scads of crayfish and others where you spook huge schools of minnows out of the shallows as you wade. Next summer think about fishing the two differently. And in the fall use more minnow baits like spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, minnow plugs, and soft plastics that swim like curly tailed grubs, curly shads and paddletails. 

Btw since tomorrow is the official start of the yearly quest for a big smallie and something I never tire of jabbering about I will be on 980 am WONE Outdoor Connection tomorrow night in the 8 o'clock hour talking smallmouth. Here is a link to listen online if you are so inclined...http://wone.iheart.com/onair/outdoor-connection-418/

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Knee deep in the creek....

Spent a swell day wading a little creek with only deer, a turtle, a couple blue herons and a snowy egret for company. Caught three shovelheads and two channels on three inch grubs as well as a whole peck of smallmouth bass. Mostly small but a couple decent ones. Nothing much beats wading wet in a creek on a late summer day...









Friday, September 16, 2016

up and at em...

The alarm jangled me awake at 4 am. For a moment I debated just rolling back over but I managed to drag myself out the door. In the last five or six days I've caught a couple nice shovels and some big channels while out smallie fishing and the time seemed ripe to try and catch one on purpose. I'd bought an Okuma Baitrunner that I kept filled with braid on a big rod for distance at places like the Big O or down in Tenn. Last night I'd taken it off that rod and put it on a seven foot carrot stix heavy action bass rod which weighed next to nothing and would be much more pleasant to cast. I had a tupperware container in the knapsack filled with oversize lipless cranks and jumbo curly shads. At the river I tied on a 3/8 ounce jighead and threaded on a huge 5" curly shad and let fly with my sophistry of soft plastic. Wow.. I could cast that thing halfway across the GMR. On one slow steady retrieve I felt a solid thump and set hard. The rod bent double as a good fish bore off downstream. Then for some reason it turned and ran right at me. I'm reeling like a madman trying to stay tight to the fish as it charged like the Light Brigade at Balaclava. Then at like ten feet it turned and the rod bent double again. But now the fish was in wide open river and in a few minutes I knelt down and grabbed that big lower jaw. 37" Wow that was fun, I'm going to have to do that a few more times while the waters still warm...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The last few days in fish...

Haven't posted in a few days, a bit of catching up to do. One skunk trying to find clear water coming into a muddy river, one trip with Dan to a pond where we landed two or three of those ugly green fish apiece, One trip with Dan and Chris where everyone caught several small smallmouth, a few channels and Chris landed a saugfish. I caught a pretty big channel that had a hideous sore on it's side that was actually oozing blood, didn't wanna handle that one too much or take any pics of that guy and a 13" spotted bass and one trip with a couple more channels, a 17" smb, some little smb, and a very hard fighting shovel that hammered a three inch smoke metalflake grub in two feet of water. Other than that I haven't fished much in the last four or five days 





:)

Friday, September 9, 2016

crossroads...

I really do not want this year to end,  I started things off by lucking into a big musky in a little creek, then caught a pb saugeye only to top it with the saugeye of a lifetime, then two 20" smbs in SW Ohio, then off to the Boundary Waters to catch a pb smallie and the pike of a lifetime. I'm beginning to feel like some night in my dreams I must have made some Robert Johnson type deal with the devil for my soul this year. It seems like nearly every time I go out this year I'm involved with some sort of nice fish. Tonight was one of the wildest of the whole year tho! We had tons of rain and though the river didn't blow out it got muddy. Very muddy. I tied on one of Vic's big chunky 5" grubs to give the fish a bigger target and never took it off. Right away I hooked a big channel. A dandy in the 7 or 8 lb range and had it flopping around in two inches of water at my feet when it came off. Then two more smaller channels and then a real hard fighting shovelhead.  Then a big thump and the rod bent double. Okay another big channel or a nice shovelhead. Nope up in the muddy water rolled a huge smallmouth. And I mean huge. If no one gives me credit for anything else in life they still have to admit I've caught enough big smallies to know a good one. And this one was better than good. Easily one of the best two or three smallies I've ever had on in forty years of fishing SW Ohio rivers. Maybe the best, like I said it was huge. And I had it on forever and finally it was whipped and I was leading it into a tiny little slackwater area at my feet to land it and the hook just popped out. Six inches from my hand. Sigh...
Ten minutes later a big smallie hammered the grub and went airborne and tailwalked all over the river but never came off. It was a big stud of a fish and measured over 19.5 but felt more like a consolation prize. The other fish was clearly a size larger.
Sigh...