Shenandoah Valley December 2022

by Jared Mounts

The first couple weeks of November saw some warmer temperatures and anglers taking to the Shenandoah River on boats and kayaks. 

  Daniel Litwin and a friend did a kayak float trip on the South Fork of the Shenandoah landing 10 fish with one measuring 20.5 inches, but the young angler’s best on the day went 22.5 inches and weighed in at 6-5!  The beautiful bronzeback took a ZMan Shroomz Jig with a ZMan TRD Bugz trailer.  The jig was a candy craw color and the trailer was green pumpkin.  

   Lonnie Conner also saw some success out of the Riverton section of the Shenandoah River.  He found fish on large rock and the ledges.  He noted water temps at 60 but dropping with a cold front rolling in.  They were equally eating tubes and crankbaits.  He was catching them in 13 foot of water on a DT14 bluegill pattern crank and the 2 ¾ inch tube.  He noted smallmouth tend to like the smaller crawfish so downsize your presentation and drag slow with a pause.  Lonnie’s largest smallmouth went 3.75 pounds.  

   If you’ve been reading these articles on a regular basis you’ve heard me talk about before but it’s worth saying again, the biggest smallmouth landed all year are typically caught in the next three months.  It’s recommended you get on the water to take advantage of this opportunity.

   Most realize the smallmouth bass prefers colder water temperatures.  Expect water temperatures to fall through the 50’s into the forty-degree mark in December.  

  Another important point Lonnie made on a recent fishing report involved finding stability in the river conditions.  Stability with water temperature, levels, and clarity.  Several days of consistent conditions equals favorable fishing conditions in the winter months.  Fish have had a chance to adjust and will be more apt to eat.    

  Focus your fishing efforts on the deepest pockets in the area you are fishing.  Fish will stack up in these wintering holes this time of year.  This is not to say you can’t catch them shallow especially if it is cold and the midday sun has warmed up the rocks in the shallower water.  Spend considerable time in both areas of the river.  Make longer casts when fishing shallow since the water will be crystal clear.  

  Stories of one fish days but that one fish weighing six pounds coming on a crankbait is possible.  

  I continue to get positive feedback on the Megabass Okashira Screw Head.  Put a small paddle tail on the 1/16 oz 3/0 hook and throw it on six-pound test line.  Let it free fall through the water column, jig it, or slow roll it to catch those winter brutes.  

  Jerkbaits of various sizes and depths will also come into play as the water temp drops.  Vary retrieval speed to see how the fish want it.  It’s not always going to be the painful 45-second to a minute pause to get bit.  Small tubes and hair jigs with a trailer drug slowly along the bottom are also very popular presentations for winter river bass.  

  Shout out to Adam Packham with Hero’s on the River for another successful combat veteran event out of Front Royal Golf Club on the Shenandoah River. 

  Check out Jake’s new online Store and plan to attend our River Guide Panel on December 17.   W2 Pro Staff Chris Gorsuch (Susquehanna) will be joined with Travis Edens (Shenandoah River), and Jeff Greene (Upper Potomac) at Jake’s from 2-4. Ask in person live audience questions or catch it on the Fishing the DMV livestream Podcast. Jared Mounts

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