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Tips for Wintertime River Smallmouth Success

Angling for Virginia’s wintertime river smallmouths is a paradox. The cold weather period is perhaps both the best time to catch trophy bronzebacks and the most likely time for fishermen not to even receive one bite. Here are tips from three well-known state anglers on how to experience more of the former and less of the latter.

Willis’ Mike Smith operates New River Fly Fishing and offers this advice.

“Fly fishermen should wait until we’ve had 50-degree-plus air temperatures for three or four days, which typically cause the water temperature to rise from, say, 40 to 44-45 degrees,” he says. “Then use sink tip lines and big streamers like my Articulated Fish Skull pattern to probe winter holes.”

Pembroke’s Britt Stoudenmire, who operates the New River Outdoor Company, gives an example of a “winter hole.”

“My favorite winter holes are pronounced ledges that run the width of the river within deeper pools,” he says. “The ledges provide breaks that protect fish in higher flows and are great structure to attract baitfish and crayfish. These are also excellent places to try jig and pigs, tubes or suspended jerk baits.

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