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Warm Water in Winter?

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2008/2/13 21:52
From West Lawn, PA
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This is the first summer that I have fished for small mouth with a fly rod ever. I had a blast, and can admit that I caught the bug for that species.

So my question; is it worth fishing for SM in the winter? Or are they so slowed down that it is not worth the investment of time?

Posted on: 2010/11/26 23:25


Re: Warm Water in Winter?
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Sholgate,
Welcome to the addiction and welcome to the PAFF Warm Water Insurgents.

Unfortunately, being a WWI guy does depend on having some warm water.

The above said, fishing SMBs in winter is not impossible but know up front: it's a %#*!+ with a fly rod. As much as I love smallies, I rarely fish for them in winter preferring trout fishing, esp with a winter such as we just experienced. Much depends on water temps, as you'd imagine. Anything below about 40 degrees and I wouldn't bother. They can be aggressive in cold water, I've had big smallies crush muskie lures in icy rivers, but generally they really shut down in cold periods. If however, we see a warm spell with some sunny days - which is common in Feb around here - it can be worth a try. Find a deep slow eddy close to shore. SMBs seem to have an inate dislike of current when it's cold, the slower the water the better. Fish right on the bottom with a minnow type fly as slow as you can - I mean just crawl the fly. The fish are catchable and you might have a banner day.
Also, be aware that many smaller creeks and about 90% of bigger creeks and mid sized rivers where you caught bass in summer will not have them in winter. SMBs migrate in late fall.

Posted on: 2010/11/27 8:47


Re: Warm Water in Winter?

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Thanks so much for the information.

Recap:

Warm spells ~ good
Temps under 40 degrees ~ bad
Slow water and presentations ~ good
Fast water ~ not so good

Do they take nymphs in the winter? I assume heavy Clousers dragging along the bottom would be good?

I guess I won't target them too much in the winter, but if I connect with a couple, I won't feel bad. :)

Posted on: 2010/11/27 23:10


Re: Warm Water in Winter?

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2009/10/15 13:45
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When I lived in York County, prior to getting back into fly fishing, I had the urge to fish in middle of the Winter. Living minutes from the Susquehanna, I hit it a few times. What stunned me was the temp of the fish as I landed them. Checked the water and it was quite warm. I don't remember where I was fishing, I know it was in York Co pretty far up. What warm water discharges are there in that area? It was dead of Winter and I had no problem catching a lot of fish on tube jigs.

Posted on: 2010/11/27 23:57


Re: Warm Water in Winter?
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Quote:

jdaddy wrote:
When I lived in York County, prior to getting back into fly fishing, I had the urge to fish in middle of the Winter. Living minutes from the Susquehanna, I hit it a few times. What stunned me was the temp of the fish as I landed them. Checked the water and it was quite warm. I don't remember where I was fishing, I know it was in York Co pretty far up. What warm water discharges are there in that area? It was dead of Winter and I had no problem catching a lot of fish on tube jigs.


You were fishing below the Brunner Island power plant.
This is a good point. If you've got a warm water discharge in a nearby river it can be a hotspot in winter.

Sholgate,
You've summed it up.
Nymphs ought to work in winter too, esp if they're big, however I've always preferred minnow flies for SMBs during the colder months of the year as this forage source is more available to bass than macros during this period. In summer I prefer nymphs and crayfish flies. It's probably not a very important distinction really.

Posted on: 2010/11/28 8:25


Re: Warm Water in Winter?

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Does anyone do any winter carping?

Posted on: 2010/11/29 11:09


Re: Warm Water in Winter?
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Quote:

rckrego wrote:
Does anyone do any winter carping?


We carp all winter long on this website.
Oh, wait a minute......

(Edit: Sorry for the lame joke - couldn't resist)

Posted on: 2010/11/29 12:32

Edited by Fishidiot on 2010/11/29 19:42:21


Re: Warm Water in Winter?

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@ Jdaddy:

Brunner Island used to be loaded with dozens of fishermen along the Susquehanna. I remember twenty years ago you couldn't find any parking spots.

You used to be able to fish in the discharge channel itself, and drive around through the plant to the upstream side too.

The discharge warms the water to about 60-70 degrees in winter below the plant and even keeps the river warm 2 or 3 miles downstream. I remember walking out onto the RR bridge in Saginaw and looking up river in winter. On the left side,( York ) there would be no ice, on the right, ( Lancaster ) it would be loaded with ice. The bridge is maybe 3 or 4 miles downstream from the plant.

The down side was that up until last year they still let that steaming hot water discharge even in the heat of summer so it created a dead zone with water over 100 degrees and the summer heat does not help to lower the water temperature as it flows down river, so the water just stays warm. In August with 90+ days the water stayed in the 90+ degree range with all that hot water flowing out strong. The amount of water that flows from the discharge is equivelant to a very large fast stream. However, the warm water quickly cools in winter to acceptable temperatures and hangs to the York County shoreline even way downstream from the plant. Further out in the main river channel the water is cooler.

About two years ago I tried to wet wade out past the warm water to reach some cooler water on the far side of a channel and an island. The water was so hot I had to turn around and get out, it was starting to burn my legs. This was about 2 miles downstream of the plant in summer. It was like a hot bathtub.

Within the past year or so they've designed a series of steam cooling towers to eliminate the discharge into the river during warmer months.

I stopped two scientists a few years ago and talked to them, just being curious. They were doing macro studies and taking temperatures and were contracted by Brunner Island to do some tests and studies. Not that it isn't obvious that 100+ temps are bad for a river system, they did not offer many answers to my questions so I left them alone.

Anyway if you go to Brunner Island now, it is desolate. Maybe one car through the whole stretch, and it's occupants are probably either smoking pot or making out, or perhaps just enjoying the view. Nobody is there because, there aren't many fish to be caught anymore.

Posted on: 2010/11/29 18:52
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Re: Warm Water in Winter?

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rckrego:

Quote:
Does anyone do any winter carping?


If I get a bow this year I might have to get so cheap arrows and stick a few dozen. All I see in the river anymore is carp. I went out about a week or so ago in the canoe and the water was pretty clear I only saw one or two bass and about a hundred carp mudding up the river.

Things that the river didn't have as much of a few decades ago:

Carp
Herons
Eagles
Cormorants
Invasive species, ex. Rusty Crayfish, and those asian clams

Pollution

Add that to the unusual string of low water/ warm summer years within the past decade.

Posted on: 2010/11/29 19:27
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Re: Warm Water in Winter?
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JLW,
While I'll grant that the Susky today has more eagles (and probably more herons and comorants) than "a few decades ago" - as a general rule pollution has been declining in the Susquehanna River system for years. Most common pollutants would have been much more prevalent in the river prior to the Clean Water Act and most have continued to decline in the last couple decades. Phosophorous levels did show a slight uptick in the last samples but generally the river system is cleaner than in previous decades. This is particularly true for the West Branch.

http://www.srbc.net/pubinfo/techdocs/ ... ion_267/techreport267.htm

Posted on: 2010/11/29 20:38


Re: Warm Water in Winter?

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In addition to warm-water discharges, how about limestone spring creeks? I remembered seeing a few Smallies in a well-known limestoner over the summer.

Since water temps tend to stay warmer in limestoners, I'm thinking that it might be a possibility in these areas.

Posted on: 2010/11/29 23:07
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"When one feels the rush of cold water against his waders, and pits his skill against the natural instincts and wariness of the trout, everything else is lost in the sheer joy of the moment."

- Ray Bergman


Re: Warm Water in Winter?

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Yeah I just went out and caught one yesterday. But it has to be right in front of them, like almost touching them. Winter carp makes summer seem like a breeze.

Posted on: 2010/11/30 7:09


Re: Warm Water in Winter?
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Quote:

goodfortune wrote:
In addition to warm-water discharges, how about limestone spring creeks? I remembered seeing a few Smallies in a well-known limestoner over the summer.

Since water temps tend to stay warmer in limestoners, I'm thinking that it might be a possibility in these areas.


This is an interesting possibility and one I'll admit I haven't really explored. My guess would be that this probably wouldn't produce many SMBs (it would be tough to keep those pesky trout off your streamers ).
The classic limestoners, like Spring Creek or Falling Springs have warm temps in the winter but hold few SMBs - probably because they're so cold in summer. Bass turn up in PFBC surveys in these creeks but I don't think I have ever caught a SMB in one of these creeks. They're also shallow and lacking in the kind of rocky structure that bass prefer. Now, the bigger limestone influenced streams like Penns or Little Juniata are another story and have lots of SMBs in their lower reaches. Perhaps the mouth of a stream like this, or a deep, slow pool in front of a dam in the lower sections might prove a cold weather SMB hotspot.

Posted on: 2010/11/30 7:17


Re: Warm Water in Winter?

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The cooling towers are not supposed to be in use in the winter at Brunner Island. If that is true, the warm water discharge is still present in winter and, therefore, offers excellent fishing at least as far downstream as the confluence of Codorus Creek.

Posted on: 2010/11/30 12:26


Re: Warm Water in Winter?

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2009/6/11 1:27
From York, PA
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"Anyway if you go to Brunner Island now, it is desolate. Maybe one car through the whole stretch, and it's occupants are probably either smoking pot or making out, or perhaps just enjoying the view. Nobody is there because, there aren't many fish to be caught anymore."

Wow!!!! And you said that I was a whiner about the fish declining! Take a deep breath and "go north young man!"

Happy Holidays

Posted on: 2010/11/30 15:02



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