Author Topic: Icy smallmouth  (Read 913 times)

Offline shoeshineman

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Icy smallmouth
« on: Dec 14, 2021, 04:49 PM »
Hi All!

Going to try to land my first ice smallmouth this year. I have the lake picked out. I've got my salmo chubby darters with very sharp hooks ready. I've got some points and rock piles identified. I've spoken with someone who has iced smallmouths on this lake in the spot that I'm looking at.

Is there anything I'm missing from the equation?
Time of day matter?
Do they tend to prefer the north side of the water or south side due to sun exposure?
My brain tells me that I should jig very slow/deadstick due to being warm water species. Is this wrong thinking?
Is a worm/senko style presentation a bad idea for the ice?

Thanks in advance!

Offline stripernut

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Re: Icy smallmouth
« Reply #1 on: Dec 14, 2021, 05:31 PM »
I am a big fan of Chubby Darter's and for me, there was a learning curve, hope this helps;
I have posted this before;
Here is how I have been fishing them;

The cadence is 2 big arm sweeps (2-4ft), short pause (3-4 sec.), 5-6 "jerks" of about 4-6 inches, pause, then a short "vibration", then repeat. If in 2 or 3 cycles I don't mark fish or hook up, I move to the next hole. This is about what I start out with each trip out.

I often keep a second rod rigged with a smaller jig and the few times that I could get it down to the fish that the Darter has "Called" in and could not get to hit, the fish I hook are most often small.

Best trip for smallies last season was 16 in a row out of 12' of water.

Offline FreshwaterPhil

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Re: Icy smallmouth
« Reply #2 on: Dec 14, 2021, 05:31 PM »
I started targeting them them last winter, after a good decade or so of fishing for largies under ice. Quite similar, maybe slightly more finicky, unless there are schooled up, they then tend to get very competitive.

For the most part, I use a Yo Zuri rattle n vibe, seems similar to the chubby darter, though I don't know if yours has rattles. Have caught them on small jigging raps and mini kastmaster spoons as well, but the Rattle n vibe seems to perform a lot better for bass.

One of the things I found, is that both species seem to often cue in on a given strike zone. For example, I may find them in 25 feet of water, but only get hit in the 18 to 23 foot range. Anything out of that zone can have them looking, but enter the zone and it's almost guaranteed to work within seconds when they are biting well.

I find they get very aggressive on some days, and super finicky on others, where you'll need to work them for a few minutes to get bit. It helps to have decent ice and snow cover, both bass species get very spooked on thin / clean ice, especially in clear water, despite me hand drilling and staying as stealthy as possible.

I don't spend more than 5 minutes on a hole without seeing any fish, just keep drilling until I hit them.

Lastly, once you hook a smallie, they tend to run up towards the surface a lot more than largies under ice. Maybe instinctive to jump, at times you may think the fish popped off, just keep reeling.

Good luck!

Offline theTUGistheDRUG

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Re: Icy smallmouth
« Reply #3 on: Dec 14, 2021, 05:36 PM »
Good topic. Interested to lear as well. I caught them only a few times by accident.  One note is to not fish them deeper than 25-30 or they stand to get barotrauma. I do plan to try to find some this winter.


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