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Targeting Mississippi River Late Fall Bronze Backs
Mississippi River Smallmouth Bass in the fall is a breeze. Pull up
on a sand point or wing dam on or near the main channel, start
casting crankbaits, topwaters, and plastics, and you are sure to
catch some smallmouths eventually. But what can you do when the
water temps start to drop and you find more duck hunters than bass
fisherman on the water?
many anglers, the answer is to put the boat away and break out the
bows and guns to prepare for the many hunting seasons that our
plentiful area has to offer. Others choose to lay low for the rest
of the year, and stay inside where it’s nice and warm. My goal
with this article is to remind anglers that just because the air is
cooling down, doesn’t mean that the smallmouth bass action is.
temperatures start to dip into the 30’s overnight, and you
experience a few frosts, the bite on main channel structures,
primarily sand humps and wingdams, gets fast and furious. During
this time, I find fish scattered all over the wingdam, especially on
the top of the rocks in the shallowest of water. I use topwater
baits, shaky heads, crankbaits, and swimbaits to catch these fish.
The flow level will determine what part of the dam these fish will
position on, as well as which dams they will be on as well. Usually,
you want to find low current this time of year, and your catch will
usually means fishing wingdams that are tucked behind inside turns,
islands, or just in a very wide area of the river where the current
is not so heavily concentrated in one small area. The bite I spoke
of above can be found anywhere from early October to early November,
weather dictating starting and ending time of the bite.
the water temps continue to dip, and the leaves are completely gone
from the trees, something even more magical happens on the river.
You might pull up to one of your favorite wingdams and find out that
all the fish are gone. However you should be extremely happy and
confident if this happens. If your fish have moved, it probably
means that they finally moved into wintering areas, where these fish
school in enormous groups, and can be caught consistently in sizes
from 2-4 lbs, with an occasional brute topping 4-1/2 or 5 lbs. A
typical “Wintering Area” could be described as deep, as you
might imagine, but there are some other keys that you look for when
searching for a true wintering area. When I think of fish
migrations, I like to look at the big picture. Do these fish have
access to water where they can spawn? Is there bait here or nearby?
How is the current hitting this, and is there any possibility in the
case of a flood, that this area would have too much current for
these smallmouth? Although you might think looking for spawning
areas in November sounds crazy, you have to remember that a big fat
smallmouth is going to make her life as easy for her as possible.
Through research, we know that smallmouth will migrate many miles to
spawning areas wintering areas, etc., but it is my theory that if
the fish have every seasonal thing they need, then they won’t move
very far. In southern lakes, it has actually been proven that the
very largest of bass can be caught in the same exact spot many times
all throughout the year. These are all things to take into great and
fish that I found this fall have wingdams, deep wood, sand humps and
drops, shad everywhere, and multiple backwaters for spawning very
close by. To top it off, the area is quite protected from current,
so these fish will likely be close to this area for a long time to
you have located a school of smallmouth on a wintering wingdam or
wintering area in general, start by coming up well behind the area
you plan to fish. It has been my discovery that the largest fish
position themselves just behind the wingdam on the edge of the drop
into 20+ feet of water. In this 7-15 foot range where I am catching
these fish, there is also some submerged wood present on a rock to
sand transition bottom. The idea is to cast your lure on top of the
wingdam or very close to the wingdam, and slowly pull the bait past
these fish that use the slackwater behind the dam for protection. My
bait of choice is a ¼ oz. Hair jig on a bfishn tackle precision
head. Dark colors provide the best range of confidence for me, and I
feel like if I’m not getting bit, its because there aren’t fish
in the area. That is a good feeling to have when the water
temperatures are ranging from 38-42 degrees.
lures that can be very effectively used this time of year include a
drop shot, Jighead inserted tube bait, Carolina rigged plastic,
crankbait worked slow, jigging spoon, jerkbait, or a spider grub on
a jighead. The key in any presentation when the water is under 45
degrees or so is SLOW. The bites that you receive on the hair jig
will not feel like your average smallmouth hit. You will most likely
fell the line veer to the side ever so slightly, or simply feel the
rod load up when you go to move the bait.
fish my hair jigs on a 6 ft medium action spinning rod with 8 lb
flouro-carbon. Light lines with low stretch are key if you plan on
feeling any bites. This does not include superlines, as I have found
that even in the
hope this article has been useful to you, and if I can provide any
more information, please feel free to give me an email at
always willing to answer questions and enjoy hearing feedback from
readers. I hope your fall is a memorable one, whether it involves
the woods, water, or my favorite, a combination of both. Stay safe
and have fun!