Shenandoah Valley

by Jared Mounts

   I consider May to be the wrap on the spring season in the Shenandoah Valley, but above average size smallmouth can still be landed before the summer season sets in.  

  This was confirmed with Austin Smith and a friend catching well over 80 fish on a recent float trip on the “Doah”.  The biggest was a 4.21 pound citation measuring 21 inches.  Another wading trip he managed a 10-20 fish day with the average size in the 16-inch range.  All fish were healthy and strong.  Tubes and flukes were the ticket fished on the fast current seams along the edge of middle river eddy’s.  Many reports of 3-4 pound smallmouth came in over the month of May.

   With rising water temperatures, June will kick off a summer pattern of fishing on the river.  Expect numbers to remain good with overall size of catches to drop off.  

   Water levels will also begin to drop to levels that will make the majority of the river accessible by canoe, kayak and wading.  Riverton and Egypt Bend are areas prop guys can still fish throughout the summer months.  

  Low water and rising temperatures drive many fish towards faster current in and around the rapids and riffles.  These areas will have a steeper drop in the river with water running over or around rocks, ledges, or submerged debris.  Fish will find better oxygenated water in this area of the river than the shallow stagnant water.  

  When fishing these areas, consider where fish will stage in the slower slack edge line next to the swift water as Austin was referring to. Smallmouth will ambush food in the faster current as it goes by.  

  After several casts getting a good drift or retrieve in the faster water, make a couple casts in to the slack pockets to entice a fish that may be laying there.  

  When doing a float trip it’s always a good idea to anchor or pull out and wade fish before or after rapids.  Depending on the size of the rapid, you could spend a good 45 minutes to an hour thoroughly fishing all the potential spots they could be holding to.  Always fish the area just up river of the rapid as well before heading down river.   

  Lure selection for this time of year can be vast.  When doing early morning and late evening trips be sure to try your favorite topwater bait.  Ploppers, poppers, and buzzbaits are good options.  I would also recommend the ZMan Hellraizer as this is something the fish haven’t seen before.  Don’t be afraid to throw these throughout the entire day as it can most definitely work in your favor.  

  As you fish deeper holes and shade consider dragging a jig, creature bait, or Texas-rigged worm along the bottom.  Also work these on the downside drop off of the submerged rock ledges.  Throw upriver and let your presentation fall off the ledge into the deeper pocket where the fish are laying.   You would need to throw above the area to give it time to get down in the column for the fish to strike. 

   Summer is a great time to get the spouse, kids, or friends on the river for some exciting smallmouth fishing action.  The weather is warmer and the Shenandoah Valley never disappoints when it comes to scenery and wildlife.  

  The information above are recommendations and suggestions so don’t hesitate to fish your way.  Fish with confidence and have fun.  Be sure to stop by Jake’s Bait & Tackle if you need gear, artificial lures, or live minnows and worms!  If you live too far from the Winchester area, you can always check out our online store at 

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