Two weeks ago, I told you that the fishing was good. It still is!
If you like the excitement a big smallmouth bass gives you when hooked, now’s the time to get out on the water. I know it’s cold in the morning, but not so cold it can’t be dressed for. And with all the rod-bending action you’ll most likely have, the adrenaline rush will keep you warm until the sun heats things up.
Right now, two of the hottest smallmouth bass spots are rivers: the Mohawk and the upper Hudson. This is where to be now if you’re looking for big smallmouth bass, and plenty of them.
The bite is from Lock 7 to Canajoharie and Lock 14. That’s a long stretch of water, but the fishing reports all through that area have been very good. In the Alplaus pool, the bridge abutments and all around the channel sides of the islands are holding schools of smallies.
In the Rotterdam stretch, the riprap and the eastern and western ends of the island by Lock 8 are good. All throughout the day, smallies have been chasing baitfish. When you see the eruption on the surface, get a lure into the middle of it as quickly as you can.
If you put in at the Kiwanis Boat Launch, don’t be in a hurry to leave the area immediately. Drop an electric trolling motor and fish the shorelines on both sides of the ramp for about 100 to 200 yards. There’s some very good underwater structure there.
The section between Locks 9 and 10 has always been good for smallmouths, and now it’s even better. The railroad bridge, Swart Island (channel side) and around buoy marker R194 are good areas to key in on.
My favorite spots this time of year between Locks 10 and 11 are the islands, and I fish all around each one of them. The one between buoys G209 and G211 is close to the channel edge and can hold some big smallie surprises in the fall.
The next two pools between Locks 11 and 12, and 12 and 13 are primarily channel edge and riprap fishing areas. But here, just like anywhere on the Mohawk this time of the year, you have to watch for smallies chasing schools of baitfish. And that can be shallow or in the middle of the deep channel. Fish the islands and creek mouths up to Canajoharie and Lock 14 at the Palatine Bridge.
The best lure choices for the Mohawk River appear to be stickbaits like the Rattling Rouge and Rapala, the soft jerkbaits such as the Fin S Fish, and any of the new swimbaits. Make a long cast, let it sit a few seconds, then use a three to four jerk-and-stop retrieves.
For the hard baits, try fire tiger and shad colors, and white or pearl with black for the soft lures.
And, as always, don’t give up on wacky worms. They always seem to work when nothing else does.
UPPER HUDSON RIVER
If you launch at Admiral’s Marine on the western shore in Stillwater, you don’t have to venture very far to find good smallmouth water. The fun begins straight across from the launch site at buoys G77 and G79. Work all around this point both shallow and deep.
Heading north, there are more than 14 miles of water before you get to Lock 5 that give smallmouths plenty of places to hide. A mile upriver, there’s a large weed bed with a deep edge along the eastern shore. Here, the smallies roam in and out of the weeds feeding throughout the day. Fish it slowly and thoroughly before moving.
North about three-quarters of a mile on the western shore at buoy G91A, there’s a small inlet. Fish both in and outside of this area.
Continuing north, watch for incoming creek mouths on both sides of the river. These all attract smallmouths, especially when
water in the creeks is moving. This is where the baitfish are, and the bass will follow.
At the mouth of the inlet leading to Coveville Marina (across from buoy R118) the smallmouths will congregate in the eight- to
10-feet-deep water in front of the inlet. Toss baits into the shallows, and work them back to the boat. This is one of the areas where I often see surface activity throughout the day in fall.
Buoys G135, G137 and G139 mark a good-sized, unnamed island with a fairly deep channel side, and it’s a favorite feeding hideout for river smallies. Catch the right school feeding, and you can hit it big in terms of numbers and size.
Nov. 1 last year, I caught a five-pound, seven-ounce smallmouth, my biggest ever on the river, just off the northern tip of this island. It’s probably over six pounds by now.
My last stop begins just north of the Route 29 bridge on the western shoreline. You can see the rocks and ledges that step down from just a few feet deep right on out into the channel. Drag a bait slowly through these areas, and you’ll catch smallmouths.
Also, before leaving, try the east side shoreline outside the wall leading into the lock. There is some underwater rock structure that attract fish all year long. You can work this in a little ways, but be careful. It gets very shallow quickly.
Lure choices for this stretch of the Hudson River are quarter-ounce jigheads with rootbeer-colored spider grubs, green-pumpkin colored tubes, No. 177 Senkos, and every once in awhile, I make 10-20 casts with a Pop-R which can bring them up from the bottom with an attitude.