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Ohio River Smallmouth Not Ready for Winter Yet or Operation Tecumseh!!

Updated on November 18, 2012
A nice keeper-size smallmouth bass was a blast to catch for this young angler.
A nice keeper-size smallmouth bass was a blast to catch for this young angler.
Ohio River smallmouth bass fight with the spirit  of the river where they live.
Ohio River smallmouth bass fight with the spirit of the river where they live.
Not all the smallmouth bass in the Ohio River are big ones, but even the small ones let you know there's a fight on the end of the line.
Not all the smallmouth bass in the Ohio River are big ones, but even the small ones let you know there's a fight on the end of the line.
The Rapala Shad Rap 5 in the upper right corner of the picture produces for all Ohio River game fish, including smallmouth bass.
The Rapala Shad Rap 5 in the upper right corner of the picture produces for all Ohio River game fish, including smallmouth bass.

Great Weather! Still Great Ohio River Fishing!

by Robb Hoff

November18, 2012

Mild late Fall temperatures may mean only one thing for some of us in the Ohio River Valley -- Get your lines in the water before winter gets here for good!

Equipped with curly-tailed jigs and hopeful for a stringer of sauger, that's how my son and I set out. Maybe not quite an Indian Summer day, but definitely close enough. Surely, the sauger would accommodate us the same way the weather had.

But no such luck.

And after a couple of hours of trying to match wits with the unpredictable and often elusive sauger, we decided to change our lures, which as it turned out, changed our luck.

With a Rapala Shad Rap 5 on one line and a 1/2-ounce Mango Minnow in-line spinner on the other, we spread farther on the bank and steadily fan cast parallel to shore downriver so we could retrieve the lures directly into the brisk current.

The change of tactic didn't take long to produce results. All of the focus and concentration on bouncing jigs along the bottom in deeper water for naught in our attempt to catch sauger was suddenly whisked away with the surge of smallmouth bass we enticed.

These spirited smallmouth fight so hard to the end that it's hard not to admire the fish for their spunk and tenacity. These native Ohio River fish truly belong in these waters and will hopefully always be inextricably linked with Ohio River. Their health and abundance is a sign that nature is taking care of itself in the Ohio River.

Of course, conditions can change in a hurry. The shad species and skipjack herring that provide much of the food for both the native and stocked hybrid species alike in the Ohio River may find themselves in a survival-of-the-fittest competition with the invasive Asian carp that has made its way into the Ohio River.

So far, the shad and skipjack populations appear to be thriving below Markland Dam, as are the game fish including the smallmouth bass.

And there will be those of out there continuing to fish to make sure it's known whether or not these fish remain thriving. The worst ecological event that could happen in the Ohio River due to Asian carp in my opinion would be any negative impact on the smallmouth bass population. They are the natives of this region, much like the Shawnee Indians once were, and it's our charge to make sure that these natives don't meet the ultimate kind of demise that the Shawnee met when their last free leader Tecumseh put up his people's final fight for survival in a world that was overwhelming theirs forever without any hope for return.

The smallmouth bass won't be able to defend themselves directly against Asian carp. They will need help if their underwater environs become overrun and their primary food source vanishes. It might be heavy-handed to call such an undertaking Operation Tecumseh, but I would hope that if it comes to a battle against Asian carp, there's enough folks on the side of the natives this times around to make the difference.


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