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Fall Smallmouth River Strategies

As I sat in the garage last night, putting new line on my rods, and picking tackle for tomorrows tournament on the River, I thought I would give you some insight into tackle selection, lines, rod’s, and why I fish where I fish this time of year. This summer has been very cold up in the north, with water temps not reaching the 70’s till very late in the season, and they are plummeting fast right now. The Maples have turned bright red, the colors along the river banks are just like an oil painting and the Smallmouth are on the move

In the fall in the upper Midwest we have a phenomenon called “Down Run” in our river

impoundments and reservoir’s. Fish that live upstream in the more oxygenated, shallow water run “Down” the lake into deeper water where they can winter, and find schools of bait. When the water temperatures are still in the upper 50’s, fish will still be up on flats, weed beds, and inside bends of the river feeding heavily on baitfish, bugs, and crawfish. This is the perfect time for a Strike King Caffeine Shad on a 4/0 VMC off set shank hook. I throw this on a 7’3” Medium/Heavy action Garys Tactical Series TFO Rod, with a Quantum Smoke 150 Reel spooled with 10lb Sunline FC Sniper in Green Color. This combo gives me the right combination of strength, feel, and back bone to feel those light biters in current.

As for colors, Pearl White, Blue Shimmer, and Alewife are my favorites. Look for anything that will break the current, rocks, trees, boulders, docks, anything. Another option is to throw a big spinner bait, which is my favorite way to catch them. Using the same reel and line, but I will upgrade to the Heavy action 7’3” TFO Rod, for swinging these brutes. My spinner bait choices are all made by Strike King. The 3/8 and ¾ oz Schorcher with Painted Blades, or the Premier Plus painted blades are my go to baits on the river. Targeting current breaks, lay downs, weed flats, tail ends of islands, docks, rock piles and wing dams all come into play. Some day’s the Smallies want a little something different, they will not “grab” the spinner bait well, and you are missing fish. This is when you bring out the Tour Grade Rage Blade or Pure Poison. Bladed jigs are often over look for Smallmouth, but they absolutely will crush them when they refuse to hit anything else. I’ve seen it time and time again when an angler works a bank or section of river with a spinnerbait or a jerkbait and along comes up empty. Then someone with a bladed jig comes and loads the boat.

As the leaves start really falling, the water gets colder. 48-55 and the fish will start to school up more, and then more presentations come into play. Strike King 3XD’s, KVD J200 or 300 jerkbaits, and Swimming Caffeine Shads on big jigs come into play. As it gets even colder, 40-48 vertical presentations start to shine. Strike King Bitsy Tubes, 3” Coffee Tubes, and Structure Bugs are great options. Also , drop shotting dream shots, shim-E-sticks, and 3” Rodents and tubes are fun ways to spend an afternoon before the Packer Game. I have caught fish all the way down to 36 degrees water temp, and although sluggish, still warmed me up, and wished for spring again to start the process all over.

Scott Cormier lives in Escanaba, MI, a place well known for quality Smallmouth Bass. In addition to being Pro Staff for iBass360, this Midwest tournament angler represents Quantum, Sun Line, and Strike King

Hopefully I can get bit this weekend, it looks promising. 35 degrees, snow, winds up to 37mph. Perfect fall Smallmouth weather. Good Luck, Happy Catching and always…..Live The Passion!



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