As the open water season begins to wind down and the cold weather moves in many kayak anglers find themselves shying away from going out in these less than ideal conditions. There is still a plethora of opportunities to get out and on some fish right up until first Ice. Most fish can still be caught once the cold weather rolls in. My personal favorite fish to target this time of year are the smallmouth out of the white river.
One of my favorite things about fishing a river this time of year is how predictable the fish become. They had just fattened themselves up for the winter months and now they are settled into their winter holes. To some these fish seem out of reach or uncatchable due to their sluggish nature in the cold water. To dedicated river fisherman like myself the winter months present an opportunity that can only be observed once a year.
Targeting these fish can be some of the most rewarding yet difficult fishing I do all year. The majority of the fish in the river have moved into only a fraction of the water which can sometimes present a challenge If you are unfamiliar with the layout of the river. Most of the time on smaller river systems like the white river if you can locate a “winter hole” you can locate the fish within it.
The past few weeks I have had the opportunity to break in my new Coosa FD doing this style of fishing. Each trip we would cover between 5 and 10 miles of river checking each and every deep hole in between.
At times it appears that there were no longer fish in the river although we logically knew they had to be. We came across a few warm water discharges and were able to pick up a few fish along the way but we had our eyes on the motherload of smallmouth even though we had no idea where they would be.
After a few hours on the river we came across a deep swing in the river where I knew there had to be some fish. We positioned ourselves out of the way and made a few casts into the hole. Almost immediately my buddy liam, fishing out of my Kilroy, hooked into a quality winter smallmouth only to lose it as the fish bulldogged back towards the deep water. A few moments later I had a small fish in the boat. After a quick release I fired my bait back into the hole and landed a nice fat smallmouth.
The fishing this time of year can be cold and deterring but if the conditions are just right and those fish want to eat then it can equate to some rapid fire action and an unforgettable day on the water.
– Aidan Darlington