Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Fox River - Northern Illinois
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Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Sat 06, 2019 11:48 am

Long-time lurker here. I have a question for jmdog, Heddon, Woo, Aux, RonG, Rambler and anyone/everyone else with insight to offer.

A couple of weekend days a month from spring to fall, my friend and I are able to wade the Fox River. On skunkless outings, we usually catch smallmouth bass in the 8-12 inch range. Maybe an occasional 14-incher. We might get 1 bass each larger than that a year.

My question (basically the same question asked in different ways) to those who regularly catch 14-16 inchers and even larger:

• What would you guess you are doing differently and better than my friend and I are doing?
• If you could pick 1 most important difference between your approach and ours, what would you guess?
• What are the 2 or 3 most important differences you would guess explain your results vs ours?
• What is one thing we could do on our next outing that you would guess would make a big difference?

Thanks a lot!
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Woohoodude11 » Apr Sat 06, 2019 12:41 pm

My smallie knowledge is fairly limited, I've actually only caught a few in the range you speak of. Largemouth are a different story, but those are far easier to find over 14".

100% of my smallies last year were caught on a small Keitech swimbait on a 1/8 oz. ball jig.
The more I fish, the more I learn hotspots and where fish like to hide. In flow, pay attention to eddies, large rocks, and anywhere that would slow down the movement of water. Avoid insanely shallow water, you're not gonna find large fish in inches of water but it can be fun pulling 8 inchers out one after another :lol:.

Most importantly, in my opinion, is put in the time. I don't know how long you've been at it or how well you know the river(s), but I find that when I don't know squat about a particular body of water, putting foot to pavement (or dirt) helps me a whole helluva lot more than words or maps do. I don't live as close to the Dupage and Fox as I'd like so I plan a week or two in advance to go on one of my off days. I make it an entire day long event. Last year on one of my Fox outings, I got to Geneva at 9 AM and didn't leave until after sunset even though I only caught one fish within the first 30 minutes.

I know there's folks here that can help you out a lot more than I can :lol: particularly RonG and Badger.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Rambler » Apr Sat 06, 2019 1:19 pm

ganz1960 wrote:Long-time lurker here. I have a question for jmdog, Heddon, Woo, Aux, RonG, Rambler and anyone/everyone else with insight to offer.

A couple of weekend days a month from spring to fall, my friend and I are able to wade the Fox River. On skunkless outings, we usually catch smallmouth bass in the 8-12 inch range. Maybe an occasional 14-incher. We might get 1 bass each larger than that a year.

My question (basically the same question asked in different ways) to those who regularly catch 14-16 inchers and even larger:

• What would you guess you are doing differently and better than my friend and I are doing?
• If you could pick 1 most important difference between your approach and ours, what would you guess?
• What are the 2 or 3 most important differences you would guess explain your results vs ours?
• What is one thing we could do on our next outing that you would guess would make a big difference?

Thanks a lot!

Hmm...asking my advice on fishing is like asking Donald Trump - oops, never mind. Don't want to be accused of politicizing this thread!

So I have to ask, what do you wear when you go fishing? I've noticed a strong correlation between how I dress and the size of the fish I catch. :lol:

OK - I'll try to get serious (HA!). I'd say X2 to what Woo said. And as that great American sage, Yogi Berra said, "You can observe a lot just by watching". I frequently go to known and unknown fishing spots and watch the water without fishing. I watch the current in rivers, places where bass, pike, etc. might hide out waiting for prey, etc. I don't do much of this for lakes but I guess it wouldn't hurt.

Reminds me - I was engaged in this out at Arlington pool last Fall and ran into a very attractive woman with her 2 teenage sons. She asked me what I was doing. I told her I was "scoping things out". She asked what I was scoping out and I almost forgot my age and marital status and said, "you!" but I caught myself.

The only other advice I can give is to read about fishing and look up things you're interested in on YouTube - lots of good info there. And like Woo said, just keep at it.

One more thing. Fishing is one of the select activities in which size doesn't matter. I find I have as much fun and fulfillment spending an afternoon on Salt Creek catching dink chubs and bass as I do catching larger fish at Busse, Skokie Lagoons, etc. As JoeTrain would say I say, it's all about the zen of the experience. Have fun.
Keep calm and fish on...

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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Aux Pleins » Apr Sat 06, 2019 2:01 pm

During the summer bigger smallies will be tight up in the current. You can catch a hundred smallies in a creek, or off a gravel bar, but mostly small males in the 10-14inch range. On an urban river during summer the bigger fish are looking for well oxygenated areas, so is the bait. If the river is flooded or up on the banks, then smallies will spread out and feed off the flooded grass. Highwater smallie fishing can be a blast.

If you can find a seawall or a rocky shoreline that offers some depth relative to the surrounding area, that would increase your odds tremendously. Bridges are often smallmouth magnets. Increased flow, structure to offer riffles, chunk rock or large gravel that offers habitat for crawfish, helgramites, and other insects that are the primary food source for smallmouth bass. Every smallmouth I have filleted has been full of craws, dont think I've ever seen a shad or minnow in the gut. That's not to say they dont eat bait fish.

Smallmouth mostly eat off the bottom and prefer to hunt off the bottom. Getting a jig down towards the bottom is your best presentation. Specific trailers are not so important, its more important to get them down in the smallies strike zone in that current before they're swept away by the fast flow. That usually requires a jig of 3/8ths or heavier. Faster the sink, better the presentation for smallies imo.

Can you catch a big smallie with a top water, yes. Can you catch smallies with spinnerbaits or small cranks, yes. Can you catch a big smallie in a slack eddie, yes. Those tactics work, just not as often as tossing a jig and tube or a jig and swimbait along that fast chunk rock or bridge piling, IMO.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Sun 07, 2019 6:23 am

Thanks guys! Plenty to think about and try!

I hope to post a photo of any bigger smallmouth I catch this year…especially so Rambler can see and critique what I'm wearing!
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Woohoodude11 » Apr Sun 07, 2019 6:27 am

ganz1960 wrote:Thanks guys! Plenty to think about and try!

I hope to post a photo of any bigger smallmouth I catch this year…especially so Rambler can see and critique what I'm wearing!

Lets just not have a smallmouth/Largemouth argument again this year :lol:
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Bassin' Ted » Apr Sun 07, 2019 10:15 am

What baits are you throwing?

I agree with Aux in that bottom bouncing jigs normally produces bigger fish.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Sun 07, 2019 2:13 pm

Bassin' Ted wrote:What baits are you throwing?

I agree with Aux in that bottom bouncing jigs normally produces bigger fish.


I usually throw swim jigs. Mostly 3-inch curly tailed grubs in the spring and move to 4-inch or so paddle tails as we get into summer.

I also use crank baits in the summer and have caught my largest smallmouth on crank baits.

But I'll commit to trying jigs on the bottom in current, like Aux mentioned. I tend to resist that presentation because of snag potential and plus I just don't have confidence that fish can find something like that…without blades or vibration or scent or something. But I'm going to try it more often this year…snags be damned.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby RonG » Apr Mon 08, 2019 9:13 pm

Best bet is to only photograph and post the bigger fish that you catch. It gives the illusion that you are awesome and you only catch whoppers.

2nd, don't be like Rambler and spend your time on the river worrying about Trump. So unproductive and only leads to repeated skunkings...

Bigger baits can keep some of the small guys off your hook. Aux Pleins posted the best combined advice. Yep, work that faster water, even ridiculously fast water if you can keep your jig near the bottom. Even in fast water, the current is low right on the bottom and they love hanging out there and popping up to grab baitfish and crawfish that go zooming over them. Work the seams where that fast water meets slower water or eddies.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Bassin' Ted » Apr Tue 09, 2019 5:34 am

ganz1960 wrote:
Bassin' Ted wrote:What baits are you throwing?

I agree with Aux in that bottom bouncing jigs normally produces bigger fish.


I usually throw swim jigs. Mostly 3-inch curly tailed grubs in the spring and move to 4-inch or so paddle tails as we get into summer.



Up your trailer on the swimjig. Look at a 3.3 or 3.8 fat Keitech and other boot style swimbait trailers. I used to use single and double tail grubs on swimjigs and chatterbaits and as soon as I went to bigger trailers, I started catching bigger fish. The swimming Fluke has done very well for me as a trailer.

Back when I used to fish the Kank and was a member of the ISA, the Yum Crawbug was a staple. That caught plenty of fish in the 15" to 19" range. I would stay away from a 3" grub. That is magnet for smaller fish.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Tue 09, 2019 7:41 am

RonG wrote:Best bet is to only photograph and post the bigger fish that you catch. It gives the illusion that you are awesome and you only catch whoppers.

2nd, don't be like Rambler and spend your time on the river worrying about Trump. So unproductive and only leads to repeated skunkings...


Ahhh…the secrets I'm learning!

And I'll try bigger baits in fast water as you mentioned too. Thanks!
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Tue 09, 2019 7:42 am

Bassin' Ted wrote:I would stay away from a 3" grub. That is magnet for smaller fish.


Interesting. I'll definitely increase the size of the plastics I use. Thanks!
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Rambler » Apr Tue 09, 2019 7:49 am

RonG wrote:Best bet is to only photograph and post the bigger fish that you catch. It gives the illusion that you are awesome and you only catch whoppers.

2nd, don't be like Rambler and spend your time on the river worrying about Trump. So unproductive and only leads to repeated skunkings...

Bigger baits can keep some of the small guys off your hook. Aux Pleins posted the best combined advice. Yep, work that faster water, even ridiculously fast water if you can keep your jig near the bottom. Even in fast water, the current is low right on the bottom and they love hanging out there and popping up to grab baitfish and crawfish that go zooming over them. Work the seams where that fast water meets slower water or eddies


Ron's right on 2 out of 3. 1) Only take pictures of your biggest catches & 2) listen to Aux - he takes it way more seriously than me. But on the 3rd - "don't be like Rambler" - he's dead wrong. I don't worry about the TRumpster - or anything else - when I'm fishing. I'm way too busy dealing with birds nests, pulling myself out of the muck and all the other crazy shit that happens to me when I'm out there.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby FloridaRigger » Apr Tue 09, 2019 8:21 am

Bassin' Ted wrote: I would stay away from a 3" grub. That is magnet for smaller fish.


+1. IMO 3" grubs are a walleye bait. 4" are my go to size for smallmouth. there's a big jump in body size between the 3" and 4" kalin's grubs. 5" works too if you cant find the 4" (I have to order the 4" from Tackle Warehouse or Kalin's direct). I also like the 3.8" Keitech fat swing impact and rage swimmers
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby SmalliesNEyes » Apr Tue 09, 2019 8:23 am

More so than any bait size change, target different areas of water, like many have recommended. Really fast water and the seams where it comes together with slack water is a great area to target for bigger fish. As are big boulders and chunk rock areas out in the fastest moving current. Keep your bait bouncing the bottom. Easiest way to do this with a jig and plastic setup(craw, grub, shad body, or anything else), is find the right size jig, first of all. I used to fish the Kank a ton, and the heaviest I usually needed to do this was 1/8oz in normal river flows. In higher flows, I would never go higher than 3/16. Make your cast intersecting the river, not straight down current. Lift your rod tip up to up to an angle of about 110 degrees. You almost want it straight up, but you'll change the angle slightly depending on current, and the weight of your jig/presentation. Then you can feel the jig as it floats just over the bottom, ticking the tops of the rocks as it goes by in the current. This is where you want your bait presented in the rivers. Just ticking over the tops of the rocks. As it goes by deeper cuts in the bottom/holes in the chunk rock, big smallies will shoot out of those to slam it. You don't even need to reel it in. Just let it float with the fast current doing this, and you'll pick up some bigger fish. When it gets straight downriver from you(wading), reel it in slowly as you're still trying to keep it right above the tops of the rocks, and repeat the process. If you ever get hung up, the fast current makes for easy retrieval. Give your line a couple quick pops/snaps right above your reel(you can look up this method of popping out snags on YouTube) and it will come right out 99% of the time. Keep your presentation out of the dead/very slack water areas. Those are preschool playgrounds filled with 7-10 inch smallmouth. Your biggest fish will be out in the fastest current(depending on season and river conditions obviously).

Obviously bigger baits can catch bigger fish a lot of the time, but with smallmouth, I've had a 7 inch smallmouth smash a 5-6 inch plastic, or a 5 inch jerkbait. They can be ravenous. Then on the other hand, my 3 biggest smallmouth in Illinois have all been 21+ inch fish, over 5lbs, and they all came on a 2 3/4 inch jerkbait... Where you're fishing the baits has more to do with it in the rivers than what bait you're using. And I'd stake my life on that. River smallmouth are opportunistic feeders. They'll eat anything/everything close enough to them that looks appetizing, and won't discriminate about size.

As far as a 3" grub... doesn't matter when river fishing for smallies. They're opportunistic feeders because river conditions/current forces them to be. They'll eat anything that floats by and looks appetizing. My brother spends 90% of his time smallie fishing in rivers throwing a white 3" Gary Yamamoto grub, and he catches plenty of 17+ inch fish on it. He also catches more smaller fish, just because it's a smaller presentation that allows for it, but he still catches plenty of big fish on that presentation.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby HEDDONFROG » Apr Tue 09, 2019 10:42 am

Can’t help you with Fox smallies but things that would apply anywhere for any fish are being OCD with gear, line, drags and hooks because it’s going to be on that trophy fish where the weak link will rear its ugly head and then all you have are “the one that got away” stories

Only one bait suggestion because said you don’t have confidence in throwing bottom contact jigs because you don’t think fish can find little baits. Try MaxScent trailers, they’ll put off a scent trail downstream. Powerbaits have flavor but do not put out a scent trail. You’re doing it for your confidence and that’s what you need to have when trying new techniques.

Good luck and let us know how you do, good or bad, there’s info that comes from every outing
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby cletedius » Apr Tue 09, 2019 11:23 am

Cant offer any info specific to the fox as Ive never fished it, but smallie fishing, particularly river smallies, is about my favorite thing to do!
ganz1960 wrote:I usually throw swim jigs. Mostly 3-inch curly tailed grubs in the spring and move to 4-inch or so paddle tails as we get into summer.

If you want to target bigger fish, I'd up the size of baits here. 3" grubs have more use in ultra-clear conditions, imo. Smallies eagerly hit larger baits than lots of people would believe & in my experience often prefer a big over a smaller sized bait. I think river smallies might be the least wary freshwater of gamefish. Swimming a 5" grub is 1 of my 2 favorite river presentations. Inexpensive, effective, versatile & catches big & small fish in open water any month of the year. Not all grubs are created equal. Kalins is my go-to, & yamamoto is my 2nd choice. 1/8 & 1/4oz jigheads should cover most situations. Like the grubs, not all are the same. The right jighead for a 5" grub has a 2/0 light-wire hook. Reasonably priced options via retail are slim at best. Probably easier to find on eebay than anywhere else. I got tired of looking so just started making them myself. My favorite method to fish a grub : cast it out, let it sink, point the rod tip towards the bait, & turn the handle. Thats it! Ill occasionally use the rodtip only to lift the bait over obstructions. The only adjustments I make are jig weight & retrieve speed. My objective is to select the right weight that lets me swim the grub just above the bottom, at an appropriate retrieve-speed (i.e., active fish=faster retrieve=heavier weight. Less active fish=slower retrieve=lighter weight). The current, wind, depth determine what weight you need & how fast it needs to move to stay in the sweet spot just above the bottom. Swimming grubs is a great search method, like a crankbait it allows you to comb thru a lot water pretty quick & efficiently(& cost-effectively!).

Embrace the reality your going to lose a lot of baits. A light-wire hook, braided line (if your not using braid, start!) will often bend the hook out on snags, allowing you to free it, bend back into shape & continue using it. Always keep a file/sharpener & check the hook point after snags. Small detail, but makes a big difference, IMO. On the + side, its pretty easy to carry script bottle full of jigheads & baggie or 2 of grubs in wading gear, gracefully.

My #1 presentation for river smallies, from (post-spawn thru mid fall) is easily topwaters. Im certain well over 50%of river smallies 20" or + that I have caught have eaten topwater baits. Aside from being fun, again, its a very efficient way to cover large areas quickly& snag free. Like the grubs, dont fear larger baits because smallmouth sure dont! Generally for me, I like chugger/popper style baits(storm chug bug) in faster water, walking-style baits(zara spook) in slower water.

Niether of these are "end-all, be-all" answers to your inquiry, but, its a solid, simple starting point to finding that answer on any given day.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby joetrain » Apr Tue 09, 2019 11:42 am

Agree with the OCD statement. Don’t assume your hooks are sharp even new ones. Get a file and learn how to sharpen them. Learn how to tie good knots and be diligent in checking them.

I’m in the OCD category with hook sharpness. I like my hooks to be able to grab my finger nail and to be able to hang from it. You might call it sticky sharp. With that said I lost an absolute horse of a bass yesterday. Would have been my largest since moving to NC. Why, I don’t know. I’ll blame it on going barbless. That’s a personal choice I make for my safety.

I like bigger loud baits for dark water and night fishing. Size probably matters but I would think that if a fish is in a positive feeding mode it’s going to eat whatever it can big or small. The key is to get it in front of them. Depth and speed is where it’s at.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Phil6 » Apr Tue 09, 2019 12:36 pm

The trick is to eat a shrimp cocktail before you go fishing. The smell will transfer from finger -> lure. Tight lines!
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby DasGoby » Apr Tue 09, 2019 12:59 pm

I agree with SmalliesNEyes on location, location, location. Some rivers are better than others for more and bigger fish, some stretches of rivers are better than others, some specific spots tend to be better than others.

I know a guy who is a hard core river rat chasing smallies in the greater Indianapolis area and he gets phenomenal results. He says that there are 1000s of streams within 1.5 hours of his house that have smallies but only 10% of them hold big fish and those fish reside along 10% of those rivers. It takes exploring and that is part of the adventure.

On the bigger bait = bigger fish thinking, I've found that this is very location specific and does hold true for the Fox and DPR that have pretty good size bait fish. On the river I fish in Michigan though, the forage is smaller and big bait just equals less fish. I've had the best success on rivers like the one I fish in Michigan by throwing smaller baits and just weeding through the smaller fish to get to the bigger ones.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby SmalliesNEyes » Apr Tue 09, 2019 2:17 pm

DasGoby wrote:I agree with SmalliesNEyes on location, location, location. Some rivers are better than others for more and bigger fish, some stretches of rivers are better than others, some specific spots tend to be better than others.

I know a guy who is a hard core river rat chasing smallies in the greater Indianapolis area and he gets phenomenal results. He says that there are 1000s of streams within 1.5 hours of his house that have smallies but only 10% of them hold big fish and those fish reside along 10% of those rivers. It takes exploring and that is part of the adventure.

On the bigger bait = bigger fish thinking, I've found that this is very location specific and does hold true for the Fox and DPR that have pretty good size bait fish. On the river I fish in Michigan though, the forage is smaller and big bait just equals less fish. I've had the best success on rivers like the one I fish in Michigan by throwing smaller baits and just weeding through the smaller fish to get to the bigger ones.


Same for me on the Mazon. I've caught three different 21-22 inch, 5+ pound smallies out of it. All three hit the same lure - a 2 3/4 inch Yo-Zuri Pin's Minnow. All came in what is basically the fastest moving water I had found in the river.

When I catch big smallies on the Fox, all of them have come in the fastest moving water around me, as my bait has gone past some sort of structure or seam. They dart out of their cover into the fast current and grab the bait. This is the life of river smallies. Like I said, they're very opportunistic, as with current, they have to be. Food moves on past them quickly.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Tue 09, 2019 5:37 pm

Thanks everyone! A lot to think about here. Can't wait to get out to the Fox!

For myself and those who don't want to read all these posts, I put together a little bullet-point summary of the advice, starting with the tips I consider most important: :D

• Pay attention to what you wear, due to the strong correlation between clothing and fish size
• Only photograph and post bigger fish
• Don't be like Rambler
• Don't waste time on the river worrying about Trump
• Eat a shrimp cocktail so the smell transfers from fingers to lure
• Pay attention to eddies, large rocks, seams, bridge pilings––anywhere that affects water flow
• Focus on fast water with jigs on or near the bottom––and avoid insanely shallow water
• Observe without fishing––and read articles and watch videos about fishing
• Size of fish doesn't really matter––just being out is fun and fulfilling
• Consider upping the size of lures and trailers––though that may be river or situation specific
• Consider MaxScent trailers to leave a scent trail and help boost confidence
• Pay close attention to gear, line, drags, knots, and hooks to help ensure landing bigger fish
• Put in the time––exploring is much of the fun!
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Tue 09, 2019 5:45 pm

cletedius wrote:My #1 presentation for river smallies, from (post-spawn thru mid fall) is easily topwaters.


That's another thing I have to commit to trying more often. The very very few times I've tried topwaters in the Fox, I've stopped after a few casts because I felt the presentation suffered from the current being too fast (thereby affecting lure action or control) or the water being just too shallow (i.e., much slower current but too near the shore to hold any fish).
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby HEDDONFROG » Apr Tue 09, 2019 6:11 pm

ganz1960 wrote:
cletedius wrote:My #1 presentation for river smallies, from (post-spawn thru mid fall) is easily topwaters.


That's another thing I have to commit to trying more often. The very very few times I've tried topwaters in the Fox, I've stopped after a few casts because I felt the presentation suffered from the current being too fast (thereby affecting lure action or control) or the water being jus
ganz1960 wrote:Thanks everyone! A lot to think about here. Can't wait to get out to the Fox!

For myself and those who don't want to read all these posts, I put together a little bullet-point summary of the advice, starting with the tips I consider most important: :D

• Pay attention to what you wear, due to the strong correlation between clothing and fish size
• Only photograph and post bigger fish
• Don't be like Rambler
• Don't waste time on the river worrying about Trump
• Eat a shrimp cocktail so the smell transfers from fingers to lure
• Pay attention to eddies, large rocks, seams, bridge pilings––anywhere that affects water flow
• Focus on fast water with jigs on or near the bottom––and avoid insanely shallow water
• Observe without fishing––and read articles and watch videos about fishing
• Size of fish doesn't really matter––just being out is fun and fulfilling
• Consider upping the size of lures and trailers––though that may be river or situation specific
• Consider MaxScent trailers to leave a scent trail and help boost confidence
• Pay close attention to gear, line, drags, knots, and hooks to help ensure landing bigger fish
• Put in the time––exploring is much of the fun!



I’m working so can’t post much a reply but some of those bullet points are hilarious. Please stick around and post more. Fishing or otherwise. Freaking great
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Bassin' Ted » Apr Tue 09, 2019 6:56 pm

ganz1960 wrote:• Pay attention to eddies, large rocks, seams, bridge pilings––anywhere that affects water flow
• Focus on fast water with jigs on or near the bottom––and avoid insanely shallow water


This was a book that was recommended to me in order to learn how to read rivers. I was able to find one through the library and photocopied all the diagrams. I found it very helpful as I was primarily a largemouth lake guy and knew very little about rivers.

ttps://www.amazon.com/Stream-Smallmouth ... 0811723844
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby badger75 » Apr Tue 09, 2019 9:31 pm

Welcome to WCF!

Hope all the advice helps. I am a relative newbie to river SMB. Only been at this for 2 years while I have fished lakes for over 50 years. I am getting better, but do not yet get the size or numbers either.

I would also suggest seeing if you can connect with some of the folks from WCF. A few really helped me get the idea of what to do. An hour fishing together can really boost your understanding.

Not sure where on the Fox you hang out. I am in the Batavia area. PM me if you want.

I have also learned a lot by reading older threads. And I agree with all the advice above. I struggle with using too heavy of a jig. I often go with 1/4 oz but that is not always in the fastest water. I have also learned to use other techniques than those I consider "my go to's". Example - started to use the NED rig last year. Good results. Learned it here.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby mikeyd » Apr Tue 09, 2019 10:32 pm

1. Find areas where water currents are traveling at different speeds and come together. Try all the areas: seams, holes under rifles, slack areas, fast runs, any cover, or even shade lines. Usually if you’re near water at around 3’ or more, you’re good. Don’t avoid the shallower areas near relatively deeper water.

2. Use bigger baits. Small baits work, but for a consistent bigger bite, use bigger baits. I like 4.3 or 4.8” swimbaits, 3/8 or 1/2 oz spinnerbaits, crankbaits, crankbaits, crankbaits, big topwater (whopper plopper, full size spook, buzz baits), 3/8 oz swimjigs, 1/2 oz football jigs, super fluke are some of my go tos. Heavier weights help ensure proper presentation with current. You don’t want your swim jig or spinnerbait kicking off to the side or jigs traveling down stream halfway up the water column or unnaturally fast. “Match the hatch” experiment with shad, shiner, minnow, bluegill, and crayfish colors. Keep an eye out in the water for clues. Small baits have their place for me but generally in winter/early spring. Leave the spinning rod at home during warmer weather.

3. If you’re around areas where there should be fish, switch up your bait or presentation every 10-15 minutes until you start getting bit. Sometimes it’s as simple as a color change.

4. Learn to present the bait properly. If you’re around grass or rocks, experiment with retrieve speed, rod angle, pauses, and twitches. You can use the current to present baits differently such as with flukes or swimbaits.

Good luck!
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby catchafew » Apr Wed 10, 2019 1:17 am

1. Collect annoying little plastic toys that your daughter/granddaughter won't clean up. Toys with 1" heads of thick hard plastic work well and since they're made in China with lead paint it helps the sink rate.

2. Decapitate toy in a humane manor, you don't want the pansies blocking traffic.

3. Drill 3/16" hole in head, fish line through hole, add split shot for desired depth and tie on a #2 treble hook.

4. Fish near dramatic transition spots, adjacent to fast waters.

Now this fish was caught on an authentic LPS from the rare collection, beware of cheap Chinese knockoffs of quality made Chinese made toys.
20190410_010700.jpg


Or just go large and obnoxious with 5" Chug Bugs.
20190410_010732.jpg
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Rambler » Apr Wed 10, 2019 8:51 am

ganz1960 wrote:• Pay attention to what you wear, due to the strong correlation between clothing and fish size
• Only photograph and post bigger fish
• Don't be like Rambler
• Don't waste time on the river worrying about Trump
• Eat a shrimp cocktail so the smell transfers from fingers to lure
• Pay attention to eddies, large rocks, seams, bridge pilings––anywhere that affects water flow
• Focus on fast water with jigs on or near the bottom––and avoid insanely shallow water
• Observe without fishing––and read articles and watch videos about fishing
• Size of fish doesn't really matter––just being out is fun and fulfilling
• Consider upping the size of lures and trailers––though that may be river or situation specific
• Consider MaxScent trailers to leave a scent trail and help boost confidence
• Pay close attention to gear, line, drags, knots, and hooks to help ensure landing bigger fish
• Put in the time––exploring is much of the fun!


:lol: :lol: :lol: Great recap. Only point I'd take issue with is the 4th from last. Size is definitely river dependent. The lures you use on the Fox won't do at all on many of the smaller creeks around here. In fact, the setup you use for the Fox won't do on smaller creeks. If you ever decide to downsize your chosen water you'll need to downsize your gear accordingly.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Wed 10, 2019 6:59 pm

Bassin' Ted wrote:This was a book that was recommended to me...


Thanks. I'll check it out!
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Wed 10, 2019 7:04 pm

badger75 wrote:I would also suggest seeing if you can connect with some of the folks from WCF. A few really helped me get the idea of what to do. An hour fishing together can really boost your understanding.

Not sure where on the Fox you hang out. I am in the Batavia area. PM me if you want.


Thanks! I just may do that. (We often go around the Aurora area, but we've been to Batavia as well as Oswego too.)

badger75 wrote:I struggle with using too heavy of a jig. I often go with 1/4 oz but that is not always in the fastest water. I have also learned to use other techniques than those I consider "my go to's". Example - started to use the NED rig last year. Good results. Learned it here.


I want to try and get better at the Ned rig. That's one of those presentations I have zero confidence in though. How can a fish find such a lifeless piece of plastic in the murk and current of the Fox river? But I know it works from reading posts here. I'll give it a try.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Wed 10, 2019 7:07 pm

mikeyd wrote:1. Find areas where water currents are traveling at different speeds and come together. Try all the areas: seams, holes under rifles, slack areas, fast runs, any cover, or even shade lines. Usually if you’re near water at around 3’ or more, you’re good. Don’t avoid the shallower areas near relatively deeper water.

2. Use bigger baits. Small baits work, but for a consistent bigger bite, use bigger baits. I like 4.3 or 4.8” swimbaits, 3/8 or 1/2 oz spinnerbaits, crankbaits, crankbaits, crankbaits, big topwater (whopper plopper, full size spook, buzz baits), 3/8 oz swimjigs, 1/2 oz football jigs, super fluke are some of my go tos. Heavier weights help ensure proper presentation with current. You don’t want your swim jig or spinnerbait kicking off to the side or jigs traveling down stream halfway up the water column or unnaturally fast. “Match the hatch” experiment with shad, shiner, minnow, bluegill, and crayfish colors. Keep an eye out in the water for clues. Small baits have their place for me but generally in winter/early spring. Leave the spinning rod at home during warmer weather.

3. If you’re around areas where there should be fish, switch up your bait or presentation every 10-15 minutes until you start getting bit. Sometimes it’s as simple as a color change.

4. Learn to present the bait properly. If you’re around grass or rocks, experiment with retrieve speed, rod angle, pauses, and twitches. You can use the current to present baits differently such as with flukes or swimbaits.

Good luck!


Thanks! Lots of good info here. Number 3 in particular resonates with me. I tend to stick with one lure whether it's working or not. I'm getting better, though, at changing lures more frequently and trying different colors and retrieves. I'll keep at it!
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Wed 10, 2019 7:13 pm

catchafew wrote:1. Collect annoying little plastic toys that your daughter/granddaughter won't clean up. Toys with 1" heads of thick hard plastic work well and since they're made in China with lead paint it helps the sink rate.

2. Decapitate toy in a humane manor, you don't want the pansies blocking traffic.

3. Drill 3/16" hole in head, fish line through hole, add split shot for desired depth and tie on a #2 treble hook.

4. Fish near dramatic transition spots, adjacent to fast waters.

Now this fish was caught on an authentic LPS from the rare collection, beware of cheap Chinese knockoffs of quality made Chinese made toys.



Or just go large and obnoxious with 5" Chug Bugs.


Ha! Wow. I don't have a daughter or granddaughter so I'll never experience the joy of catching a fish on one of these awesome baits. I'll have to accept that 5" Chug Bugs are as close as I'll get.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Wed 10, 2019 7:18 pm

Rambler wrote:Size is definitely river dependent. The lures you use on the Fox won't do at all on many of the smaller creeks around here. In fact, the setup you use for the Fox won't do on smaller creeks. If you ever decide to downsize your chosen water you'll need to downsize your gear accordingly.


Cool. Good to know. I hope I can try some of the smaller creeks around here sometime. Seems like a different skill set and a fun time.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby jeemoosh » Apr Sun 14, 2019 6:49 pm

Lots of good info here. I too am just learning how to read rivers. I resigned myself to the fact that river bottoms eat lots of my baits, but if I don’t feel the bottom I don’t catch fish. Bit frustrating at times, especially when you get about 2 casts and that $8 husky jerk breaks off. One of the hardest things to do is trying new techniques/presentations. It’s easy to go with methods that have produced in the past and as a result give up on something new. Stick with it and as the results improve so will your confidence in that bait.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Rambler » Apr Mon 15, 2019 7:03 am

^^^$8.00 for a lure? You need to join the AACB!
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Ken G » Apr Wed 17, 2019 9:26 am

I didn't fish much and never a river before I turned 40. That was 1996. After that, fishing the Fox River and the creeks that feed it became an obsession. For 19 years that's all I really cared about doing.

19 years later and 10,000 smallies caught, probably a lot more than that, enough was enough and I've pretty much quit fishing except for the occasional venture. If you factor in all the fish I had on and didn't land, or got hit and didn't hook, you can easily add another 10 thousand. And this is all just from the Fox and it's creeks.

My writings are still all out there somewhere along with my OCD way of keeping records. Those records show that in any given year, 15% of the fish I landed were over 14 inches. Biggest I ever caught measured out at 20.5. I like to think catching nearly 100 smallies a year over 14 inches is pretty good. But since I like quantity over quality, I'm pretty happy overall with what I used to catch.

Most important thing is to learn how to read water. With the guiding and fishing classes I used to do, I tried to teach anglers how to keep pinpointing a fishing spot down to the size of a coffee can. Most will never know how many fish they're walking past because they didn't slow down enough and fish those tiny spots. The other trick is that all live baitfish in the river are facing into the current, so why would you cast upstream and swim it down stream with it's ass to the current? I only cast upstream if I have to, which is rare.

But that's just me.

As for lures, you know how much I love getting made fun of for this. 3 inch pearl Producto twister on a 1/16th ounce jig. Learn how to use it. Not interested in hearing how you can't get that down to the fish. Sometimes I switch to other colors offered by Producto, but it's rare. It's caught nearly 90% of all those fish I caught over the years. In clearer water, deep pools on Fox creeks, the Apple, the Kank, you can't beat YUM crayfish.

To repeat myself, cause I'm getting older and like to do that, learn how to read the water. Something I used to tell anglers all the time... when you catch a fish, walk over to where it first hit and figure out why it was sitting there. Sometimes it's just random, but most of the time there's a reason even if it was just sitting behind a rock the size of a coffee can. There's a good chance that's where the minnows were congregating. Once you figure that out, repeat it endlessly everywhere you go.

Then there's my Fishing Assholes for Monster Bronze Bombers theory, but that's a different story.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby Rambler » Apr Wed 17, 2019 1:57 pm

^^^Best bet is to listen to Ken. He knows of which he speaks.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Wed 17, 2019 5:42 pm

jeemoosh wrote:I too am just learning how to read rivers. I resigned myself to the fact that river bottoms eat lots of my baits...


I'm preparing mentally to lose a lot of lures too. But I wonder: In the post from expert Ken G above, he advises to use a 3-inch twister on a 1/16 oz jig. Maybe that would prevent so many snags.

In any event, he agrees with what you're saying and I've been thinking: learning to read rivers is essential. Maybe the most important factor to success I imagine.
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Wed 17, 2019 5:46 pm

Ken G wrote:Most important thing is to learn how to read water.


Interesting. Especially where you mentioned elsewhere in your post about walking over to figure out why the fish hit. And to pinpoint the spot down to the size of a coffee can.

And also to learn how to use a 3-inch twister on a 1/16 oz jig.

Thanks for the info!
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Re: Why are your fish so often bigger than ours?

Postby ganz1960 » Apr Wed 17, 2019 5:47 pm

Rambler wrote:^^^Best bet is to listen to Ken. He knows of which he speaks.


Agree. Ken's got the experience and knowledge. I'll do my best to listen to him. Thanks.
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