Last month the weather turned cool quickly, dropping water temperatures on the Shenandoah River into the 60’s by early October. Hurricane Ian rain kept most anglers off the river for a couple days but those that got out caught fish. Tim Shank and James Hiner had a great outing the second week of the month.
They boated 15 fish with two weighing over three pounds. Most of their fish came on a Rapala DT6 crankbait and a Rite Bite green pumpkin purple smoke tube! Randall Grove and Kenny Hepner also had some good outings on the North Fork with 30+ fish days. A wacky rig did most of the damage. Kenny caught an 18” smallmouth AND a 19 ½ inch largemouth on one outing. Water temperatures ranged from 58-62 when they fished, but expect 44-50 this month.
Water temperatures in the beginning of the month will remain in an ideal range for potential aggressive feeding patterns. For this reason, slow rolling moving reaction baits can still produce. Water levels will be low and clear so long casts will be necessary.
Crankbaits and vibrating jigs worked from the bank out and in the deeper channels just below the rapids and eddy lines could produce a strike. Customers often ask what depth crank they should use. Water levels will be lower so you can get away with a 5-7 foot range on most of the river. Ideally you want to the lure bouncing off of the bottom and rocks. There are deeper holes ,so make adjustments as needed. An underspins with your favorite paddle tail swim bait is also a good choice. Let it sink and slowly retrieve it along the bottom of the water column.
Swimbaits on a jighead are a high percentage lure that can be fished in the entire water column at different rates of speed. The jig and creature baits worked along the bottom will produce throughout the entire month.
By the end of the month into December look for fish to start to stack up and concentrate in the deeper pockets and wintering holes. This doesn’t mean fish won’t swim up and feed shallow at different times of the day. As water temperature drops later in the month you’ll see guys start to throw jerkbaits, tubes, and hair jigs.
Riverton, Lockes Landing, and Egypt Bend tend to be the most popular areas to fish going into the winter pattern. Another less popular but good stretch to consider is the Farms Riverview Road boat ramp on the main stem below Front Royal to Berry’s Ferry launch under the Route 50 Bridge. This is a good 6.25 mile canoe/kayak float that offers some stretches of deeper boulder type holes. Low water levels on the river will make it difficult for the jet boats to access this stretch this time of year.
I also suggest checking out the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources website to find new places to wet a line. There are numerous public access points on the North Fork, South Fork, and Main Stem of the Shenandoah River. Every year we see pictures of quality smallmouth caught from the bank of the Shenandoah.
Jake’s Bait & Tackle in Winchester, Virginia has some exciting news we’d like to share with the Woods & Waters fans. We will be rolling out an online shopping opportunity in the month of November. We will start with limited products and apparel but be sure to check it out to get that lure you can’t find in the big box stores or the Jake’s hat or tee. These items always make great Christmas gifts for that angler friend in your life. Follow Facebook, Instagram, and the website for updates.