The rains are on the way. Hurricane Isaac has mostly left the Gulf Coast and is headed inland. As bad as it was in the Coast, it’ll be seriously beneficial to us smallmouth anglers. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that the next week or 10 days might be some of the best fishing we’ve seen in years.
Much of our smallmouth territory around the country has been hit by serious drought and high heat this summer. It’s made fishing as tough as I can ever remember. The rains will change that. They’ll bring oxygen-rich, cool water into everything. The creeks will run, the rivers will swell, and water levels in the lakes and reservoirs will rise.
If the weather people are right, almost all of the middle of smallmouth territory — up through Alabama and into Tennessee and Tennessee and then through the Ohio River Valley and on up towards the glacial and Great Lakes — will see anywhere between 5 and 9 inches of water. And, it’ll come over a three or four day period. That’s perfect, enough to keep everything running but not so much as to destroy stuff with flooding.
The creeks will light up first. I’m guessing the fish will move and feed heavily right where they enter the main body of water. That should last for a few days. After that, the water will move out and create bigger feeding areas. That’ll probably happen later next week.
You can expect things to change with the smallmouth almost overnight. At the southern end of their range the rain should come this afternoon or later tonight. As you move north a ways it’ll happen on Saturday or in some places maybe as late as Sunday. You can expect the feeding frenzy to start a few hours after the rains hit your neighborhood.
The action will probably be short-lived, however. Water doesn’t move through the creeks forever. It’ll finally drop to a trickle, and then one morning you’ll look up and it’ll be gone. As the water spreads through the main body of whatever you’re fishing it has less effect, too. This is the kind of event you have to take advantage of right now. Wait too long and it’ll be over.
The only negative I can see out of all this is that the water will get muddy and there’ll be tons of debris in the water. The mud is really pretty easy to deal with. Dark colored jigs with dark trailers and anything that makes a ruckus will probably catch them.
These are feeding fish. Don’t worry too much about what you’re using to catch them. The important thing is to be there fishing at the right time. That’s when the water’s coming in. I wouldn’t worry too much about what time of day or night your fishing. They’ll feed continuously until they stop.
The debris isn’t so bad, either. Just keep your eyes open and pay attention to what you’re doing. Lower units are expensive, and your life is priceless.