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Monday, 22 November 2010 01:00

Smallmouth, wintering hole smack down

Written by Juan Veruete
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Smallmouth, wintering hole smack down Photograph by Juan Veruete

It was a great day of fishing with enough action to keep me warm even with the air temps dipping into the low 40's. The highlight of the trip was a 20" fat fall bronze back. Despite the cold water, the fish made several leaps and even cleared the water once before I could bring the fish to hand. The fish was a fitting exclamation to an action filled late fall trip.

I hit the Juniata river today for a single access trip in a section of the river with one major wintering hole and several lesser wintering areas. It was a VERY long paddle but well worth the trip. Good news is...I didn't have to travel as far as expected. I hit 2 solid wintering areas. One of which produced the vast majority of the fish so I decided to stay put in that area and really work it over. Smallmouth were stacked at the top of the wintering hole just as the water dropped sharply into a deep channel.

I fished for 5 hours (10:00 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.) with the first two hours being the most productive. I landed 20 smallmouth bass and lost 6 fish on the way to the kayak. The biggest of the day was a hard fighting 20 inch "C" class smallie! It was a VERY light bite today. Most of the fish were hooked JUST inside the mouth. I even hooked a couple on the outside of the mouth. That was a good indicator of how light the bit was.

All but four of the fish were caught on Winco's Chillee Willee. I switched up baits a few times but this was what the fish wanted. It was also an ideal bait for the light bite because it is rigged on a 1/8 football head. I prefer exposed head hooks in light bite situations. The hard jighead combined with braid and a quality graphite rod transfers every contact with a rock as a subtle but CRISP tap. Sometimes there was the tell tail "tap tap" of the fish or a "mushy" feeling but most of the time today the bites where even more difficult to decipher. I really feel that today the exposed lead head was a critical part of my technique. I would feel the tap..tap...tap...tap of the head ticking off rocks and then "nothing" ... not even mush. It was more like the "lack of weight" on the end of my line... as if the bait had lost contact with the bottom. When I felt "nothing"....I reeled up and set the hook. More times than not, there was a fish.


These are the two baits I used to catch all my fish. Pictured is the tailless beat up Chillee Willee I felt like it is fitting that I take a picture of the top producing bait that was doing most of the "smack down" .... It makes you wonder who won..the fish or the bait.

The chillee Willee was the ticket today. Problem...heck, I didn't realize that I only had two left!! The first CW, with some TLC, finally wore out after the 12th fish. I lost the second to the river gods in about 8 feet of water. My backup was a Tastee Tube Jr. The tube was definitely producing but not at the same rate the Chillee Willee had produced. I actually called and placed an order while I was on the water so I wouldn't forget! Yeah, I know...I'm a fanatic.

It was a classic late fall/early winter day. Overcast most of the day. 43-45 degree air temps. Water temps were below 45. The wind was a real factor with fairly constant breeze blowing at 14 m.p.h and gusts up to 22 m.p.h. straight down river. Given the wind and the concentrated location of the fish, I wanted to be as stationary as possible so used my home made stake out pole at various points (about every 10 yards) as I worked my way down river hugging the bank pictured below. The edge of the channel was about 10 yards off the bank.

Here's a picture of the 20 incher. Nice smallie that fell to the first Chillee Willee!

For more information about Juan check out our recommended guides list or his website kayakfishpa.com.

Read 5239 times Last modified on Sunday, 21 November 2010 11:41

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