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Want To Catch My First Smallmouth


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I grew up in rural Tennessee fishing lots of ponds. I've caught my fair share of pond largemouth. Post-college led me to the St. Louis area in 2010 and I hadn't fished since I got here...until I had a kid.

Two weeks ago I took my five year old daughter to Fabick in Fenton and she caught her first fish and loved it. We've been a couple of times since then...but that made me miss fishing. My house is about 15 minutes from the Big River, so I've gone to the Byrnes Mill access a couple of times, and that's when I realized, I have no idea what I'm doing.

I feel like I am out of my element when I'm standing on the bank of the Big River casting. I don't know where to fish, how to get there from the bank, what lures to use, etc.

I'll tell you what I've learned lurking these forums and what I've been using. I'm just hoping to have some confidence going into Monday when my family and some friends will be on the Black River (again bank/wading) near Centerville, MO.

I just have a spinning combo (Ugly Stik GX2) with 8 lb fluorocarbon on it.

In the Big River via Byrnes Mill, I have walked up river maybe half a mile and thrown everything that I have read about. I have some Ned Rigs I've used. I've thrown a small crank bait. I tried throwing a Rapala Jointed Minnow, but it doesn't really move well on the spinning reel like it does on heavier line with my old Zebco 33. I've thrown a Rebel Craw. And I've thrown a ton of Senko variations.

I caught a rock. Literally, somehow I hooked a 5 lb rock and pulled it to shore. Other than that, I'm absolutely clueless.

I've tried to wade and hit pools of deeper water, near logs and rocks, in eddies, in seams, at the bottom of riffles, at the top of riffles, etc. And then I'll also just let the Ned Rig do its work while I slowly reel in. All in all, while I'm frustrated, I'm just as determined to finally get the hang of it and figure things out.

So, with all of that said, not only do I feel clueless, I think I am clueless on the proper way to wade the Big River (and soon the Black River) in order to catch my first ever Smallie. YouTube makes me feel like I should be pulling one in constantly, so of course that doesn't help. But, I suppose I'm just looking for encouragement, any tips and tricks for a newbie, or someone that can tell me the magic words to say before I cast so I stop catching rocks and start catching fish...Are the public accesses so pressured that I need to get out of there to somewhere else? Is wading hopeless? Do I just need to invest in a kayak? So many questions, so few answers.

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Fortunately I didn’t say how large of one I wanted to catch. The monkey is off my back in the sense that I caught one on the Black River. So next is the learn more and catch bigger ones. Thanks for th

Eh, that was just what I happened to have handy, for scale 😅  How 'bout this labor day popper?   It's my weekend "tournament winnings"  😎   🔨

If you are into fly-fishing at all, this is the perfect time of the year to plop and twitch big foam hoppers, especially if the water is incredibly clear.   You can move a smallmouth 25 feet to crush

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On 9/5/2020 at 3:01 PM, WannabeAngler said:

I grew up in rural Tennessee fishing lots of ponds. I've caught my fair share of pond largemouth. Post-college led me to the St. Louis area in 2010 and I hadn't fished since I got here...until I had a kid.

Two weeks ago I took my five year old daughter to Fabick in Fenton and she caught her first fish and loved it. We've been a couple of times since then...but that made me miss fishing. My house is about 15 minutes from the Big River, so I've gone to the Byrnes Mill access a couple of times, and that's when I realized, I have no idea what I'm doing.

I feel like I am out of my element when I'm standing on the bank of the Big River casting. I don't know where to fish, how to get there from the bank, what lures to use, etc.

I'll tell you what I've learned lurking these forums and what I've been using. I'm just hoping to have some confidence going into Monday when my family and some friends will be on the Black River (again bank/wading) near Centerville, MO.

I just have a spinning combo (Ugly Stik GX2) with 8 lb fluorocarbon on it.

In the Big River via Byrnes Mill, I have walked up river maybe half a mile and thrown everything that I have read about. I have some Ned Rigs I've used. I've thrown a small crank bait. I tried throwing a Rapala Jointed Minnow, but it doesn't really move well on the spinning reel like it does on heavier line with my old Zebco 33. I've thrown a Rebel Craw. And I've thrown a ton of Senko variations.

I caught a rock. Literally, somehow I hooked a 5 lb rock and pulled it to shore. Other than that, I'm absolutely clueless.

I've tried to wade and hit pools of deeper water, near logs and rocks, in eddies, in seams, at the bottom of riffles, at the top of riffles, etc. And then I'll also just let the Ned Rig do its work while I slowly reel in. All in all, while I'm frustrated, I'm just as determined to finally get the hang of it and figure things out.

So, with all of that said, not only do I feel clueless, I think I am clueless on the proper way to wade the Big River (and soon the Black River) in order to catch my first ever Smallie. YouTube makes me feel like I should be pulling one in constantly, so of course that doesn't help. But, I suppose I'm just looking for encouragement, any tips and tricks for a newbie, or someone that can tell me the magic words to say before I cast so I stop catching rocks and start catching fish...Are the public accesses so pressured that I need to get out of there to somewhere else? Is wading hopeless? Do I just need to invest in a kayak? So many questions, so few answers.

If you’re serious, then you need to spend some money. That will determine how serious you are. Use the money to hire a river guide and learn. It’s worth the money and the learning curve will be about 500% faster. Next,  spend some money and buy a boat. 

"Honor is a man's gift to himself" Rob Roy McGregor

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I respect your effort and determination. Don't give up because it will eventually click. That is the part that makes fishing so rewarding.

I got out of fishing consistently when my children were young, but now I'm  an addict!  I would give you advice, but it sounds like you have already tried everything I would recommend. 

I'm not familiar with that water, but it sounds like you should be catching fish with everything you've tried. You may explore some different areas - this is where a kayak / boat definitely helps. It's been so hot lately, that most of my river fish have been caught around riffles early or late in the day.  It is exremely difficult for me this time of year when the sun is high in the sky.

I believe the areas around the riffles has more dissolved oxygen and baitfish. Some riffles produce and some don't.  These fish also become wise to people / predators so it is best to be sneaky. 

It will get better the next couple of weeks as fall approaches.  When you do catch a fish remember all of the small details and conditions - and then repeat.  Keep your head in these forums and you will learn so much. Let your enjoyment come from the hunt and the experience on the water vs the amount of fish you catch. Take your kids as much as you can - they grow up so fast. God Bless!

 

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You need to head further upstream on Big River to catch smallmouth on a regular basis. Get ahold of Joe D, he does some guiding on the Meramec & Big. He's a little rough around the edges, but a super nice guy at heart. Zoom Fat Albert Grub and a 1/8 or 1/4 oz  head with a weed guard is a great numbers bait. Zoom Super Flukes in White, Pink, or White with Chartruese tail work really well...4-5/0 EWG Hook. Good Luck.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sounds like you should have caught some bass on Big River by now, but maybe not smallmouth, since they are rather scarce on lower Big.  Black River is about 98% smallmouth, so your chances go way up there.  But it's a tricky river to fish because it's so super clear.  The Ned rig should work on Black River, but you have to make LONG casts, because the fish can see you from a long way off.  I'm not a Ned rig angler...I hate the things and refuse to use them.  But it's probably as good as anything to use to just catch some fish.

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20 minutes ago, Al Agnew said:

Sounds like you should have caught some bass on Big River by now, but maybe not smallmouth, since they are rather scarce on lower Big.  Black River is about 98% smallmouth, so your chances go way up there.  But it's a tricky river to fish because it's so super clear.  The Ned rig should work on Black River, but you have to make LONG casts, because the fish can see you from a long way off.  I'm not a Ned rig angler...I hate the things and refuse to use them.  But it's probably as good as anything to use to just catch some fish.

Appreciate the input. I knew the Black was very clear so I'm excited to try something different. 

As for the Big River, how far up to really start? I scoped out Morse Mill yesterday for a little bit just at the public access. I'd like to see if I can't wade upriver from there if at all possible if that's a good spot. Not a long drive for me to go. But of course, I'll drive however far upriver I need to. All new territory for me. 

By the way, appreciate all of your write-ups on the Big and many others. They've been helpful.

2 hours ago, Gavin said:

The Big, and Black are completely different rivers. The Black is faster and air clear, and the fish relate to depth. The Big is usually pretty murky. Different tactics are required.

 

Much appreciated. I've been using dark colors in the Big River thus far. Planning on some natural colored Ned Rigs w/ Z-Man products, and picked up a Spook Jr. today to try out there. If nothing else, it's practice. Any other suggestions? I'll also try to throw out some white flukes the next time I'm down on the Big. I have a package but haven't done anything with them. I've never fished flukes before, so again, it's practice for me.

4 hours ago, Jadesjigs said:

I respect your effort and determination. Don't give up because it will eventually click. That is the part that makes fishing so rewarding.

I got out of fishing consistently when my children were young, but now I'm  an addict!  I would give you advice, but it sounds like you have already tried everything I would recommend. 

I'm not familiar with that water, but it sounds like you should be catching fish with everything you've tried. You may explore some different areas - this is where a kayak / boat definitely helps. It's been so hot lately, that most of my river fish have been caught around riffles early or late in the day.  It is exremely difficult for me this time of year when the sun is high in the sky.

I believe the areas around the riffles has more dissolved oxygen and baitfish. Some riffles produce and some don't.  These fish also become wise to people / predators so it is best to be sneaky. 

It will get better the next couple of weeks as fall approaches.  When you do catch a fish remember all of the small details and conditions - and then repeat.  Keep your head in these forums and you will learn so much. Let your enjoyment come from the hunt and the experience on the water vs the amount of fish you catch. Take your kids as much as you can - they grow up so fast. God Bless!

 

Appreciate the encouragement! 

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If you are into fly-fishing at all, this is the perfect time of the year to plop and twitch big foam hoppers, especially if the water is incredibly clear.   You can move a smallmouth 25 feet to crush a grasshopper in clear water, just simply by plopping it down next to the bank.  IMG_20200905_224050926_BURST000_COVER_TOP~2.jpg

It's something that not very many people do, so if the fish have been hassled by fishermen all summer.....this will still get'em.

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Read all of Al Agnew's posts...Its allot....but yes, he is very good. He is Insanely good at working fish, and the  most accurate that I've ever seen with a bait caster from a canoe. Mitch F  is really good too but a jig guy. Have learned allot from both. I can out fly cast both of them, but its not a contest. Have never fished with FW but he needs to send me an invite for Whites, Stripers, or SMB

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