Look to the creeks

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

It seems like every week we talk about the weather. I don’t always like to do that but this year that seems to be the most appropriate topic, at least if you want to catch more smallies. I can’t remember a year when the weather changed so often and so quickly. One or two days makes all the difference in the world when it comes to finding the fish, and then making them bite.

The rain we had after the heat wave was pretty close to twice as much as I expected. And, in typical fishing tradition, it’s changed everything about how we approach this thing.

I said last week that the fish aren’t as deep as they usually are at this time of the year. But who would have thought that they’d actually move up, into the creeks? Think it or not, that’s exactly what a lot of them have done in the last two or three days.

When you first stop and think about it you might think this is a bad thing because it makes the smallmouth harder to find. They aren’t in their usual places. That’s true, but it also makes them easier to catch once you find where they’re at.

The thing is that they’ve moved into the creek channels where there’s a little bit of moving water, or in some cases a lot of moving water. I think that’s because the baitfish made that move first and the smallmouth are following them like they always do. But, no matter the reason, they’re there and they’re biting. That’s really good news.

My best advice for at least the next week is to find a long creek with plenty of water flowing into it, a well-defined channel with steep sides and one that has several twists and turns along its path. Fish the twists and turns. In my part of the country (Tennessee), they mostly stack along the outside of the turns but that doesn’t mean they’ll do it everywhere. It’s best to check everything until you develop a pattern.

My fish are feeding. I suspect yours are as well. That means natural looking baits that match the hatch will work the best. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jerkbaits — hard or soft makes no difference — are good choices.

I always fish with the current. That seems to be the way most baitfish move so that’s the way I want my lures to move. And, I always start slow and then increase my presentation speed until I find exactly what the fish want. Don’t get in a hurry when you do this. A small change in speed can make a big difference in the bite.

Another option is to fish the creeks at night. The water might have a little color to it but that won’t stop the fish from feeding when the sun goes down. I use the same baits and present them pretty much the same way with the exception that I usually use darker colors at night. The fish seem to be able to see them better.    

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