Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Since water temperature of the Allegheny River in the Oil City/Franklin area dropped into the 30s much earlier than normal this fall, I've struggled to catch more than one smallmouth bass on each trip to the river. Years of river fishing experience has taught me that the best fall smallmouth bite is with temperatures between 55 and 40 degrees. Once the temp dips below 40 degrees, the bites become few and far between. Normally, the river reaches the low 50s about November 1, and continues to drop slowly to 32 degrees by January 1. This year, with an incredible snow storm the first part of November sent river temps in a downward spiral from which it cannot recover. The last three trips to the river, the water temp has been 32, 38 and 37. Each time I could only manage one smallmouth. Each time, I keep thinking this is my last smallmouth for 2015. Yesterday, Gene Winger and I hit the river for four hours with water temp at 37 degrees. I caught a 15" smallmouth right off the bat on a small tube jig, and handed it to Gene so I could get a quick picture - thinking this would NOT be my last fish of the day. But it was. Gene caught one walleye on one of his favorite cold water jigs. But that was it. I'm thinking it is time to switch species for the balance of open water season, Maybe walleye, trout or steelhead - a species which likes colder temps. I don't see the smallmouth magic number of 40 degrees returning until March.