Skip to main content

Friends, Smallmouths, And The Big Push

Friends, Smallmouths, And The Big Push

This is my friend Jerry Hagstrom. He and our pal Dick Riddell have been coming up here to central Minnesota to fish smallmouths in area lakes and rivers for many years. They live in the Quad Cities region of Iowa and belong to the Quad Cities Conservation Alliance. I first met them this past spring, at the QCCA ExpoCenter Sport Show. Before long the smallmouth topic was broached, one thing led to another, and I spent yesterday morning and early afternoon in Jerry's boat on the Mississippi River.

When fishing friends visit, I drop everything and go fishing. You may have heard everything hit the floor from where you're sitting. Next week I'll be speaking in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Meanwhile, assignments are coming due for In-Fisherman magazine, the 2013 Gear Guide, the 2013 Bass Guide, and several other publications. And I'll be speaking again in Wisconsin during the first week of October.

But, while jobs come and go, friends are a lifetime achievement. I did my best to help them find fish, but it was tough — due to the dynamic discussed in the last post: lingering summers causing fish to languish.


"They certainly don't languish after you hook one," Jerry countered my theory with a grimace, his rod wrapped around the hull of his boat in a big, dangerous arc.


We caught one or two fish on every key spot and they averaged 17.5 inches or so. Which is decidedly poor around here, but not so poor as to keep us off the water. River smallmouths seem to be waiting for that first big nudge from Mother Nature to move and feed in their usual autumnal manner. It usually appears in the form of a cold front that causes a sudden drop in water temperature. The river was reading 62°F yesterday morning, and probably reached the mid 60°F range by the end of the day, which represents no significant change from the past several weeks.

But The Big Push isn't controlled by temperature or cold fronts. Honestly, it's controlled by things we don't yet understand. In over two decades of closely monitoring fall migrations of various populations of smallmouths in the Mississippi River from Grand Rapids down to St. Cloud, the real "trigger" remains a mystery. It seems quite apparent to me (especially in the case of the longer migrations) that smallmouths inherently "know" when winter is going to come early and when autumn is going to linger longer than usual. Some years The Big Push takes place in the kinds of temperatures and scenarios we're experiencing right now. Obviously, not this year. Sometimes it begins in late August, sometimes a month or more later. Sometimes it takes place during a full or new moon, but usually not.

So, is it day length? Maybe. Moon phase? Perhaps. Temperature? Not so much. Sometimes the best theory a fisherman can have is the simple admission that there are many, many things about fish and animals we do not know. Stay tuned for this year's ruminations on the movements of fall smallmouths in rivers, and what it takes to trigger those pent up aggressive tendencies of theirs.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

“If that engine starts without my kill switch on, I ain't the one driving it,” Blake Broussard says after ejection video goes viral.

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

The In-Fisherman crew head to Lake Erie to catch smallmouth bass.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

Channel Cats on Ice

Channel Cats on Ice

The In-Fisherman staff reveals some of the hottest action of the winter season, as they show how to ice 20-pound channel catfish.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Bass rigs can be simple or complex, but most have evolved to include multiple variations.Bass Rigs You Need to Be Fishing Bass

Bass Rigs You Need to Be Fishing

Matt Straw

Bass rigs can be simple or complex, but most have evolved to include multiple variations.

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is simply a matter of putting a good bait in the right in front of them. 8 Best Catfish Rigs - When, Where and How to Use Them Catfish

8 Best Catfish Rigs - When, Where and How to Use Them

In-Fisherman

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is...

Familiar to veteran In-­Fisherman readers and anglers versed in fish sensory abilities.The Book on Bass Accessories

The Book on Bass

Steve Quinn - October 14, 2020

Familiar to veteran In-­Fisherman readers and anglers versed in fish sensory abilities.

Serve these walleye fish cakes with homemade blue cheese aioli or blue cheese salad dressing.Walleye Fish Cakes with Blue Cheese Aioli Recipe Fish Recipes

Walleye Fish Cakes with Blue Cheese Aioli Recipe

Chefs Jerry Swanson and Tommy Nuesse

Serve these walleye fish cakes with homemade blue cheese aioli or blue cheese salad dressing.

See More Trending Articles

More Bass

Pro angler Brandon Lester explains why the jig is the best bass lure everIs The Jig The Best Bass Lure Of All Time? Bass

Is The Jig The Best Bass Lure Of All Time?

Alan McGuckin - January 26, 2021

Pro angler Brandon Lester explains why the jig is the best bass lure ever

Understanding how spotted bass differ from their counterparts will help you be more successful across the counrtyNorthern Perspective On Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted Bass Bass

Northern Perspective On Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted Bass

David A. Brown - December 25, 2020

Understanding how spotted bass differ from their counterparts will help you be more successful...

What makes spotted bass different also makes them special, and a lot of fun to catchWhy Southern Spotted Bass Are So Special Bass

Why Southern Spotted Bass Are So Special

David A. Brown - December 28, 2020

What makes spotted bass different also makes them special, and a lot of fun to catch

Keeping a swim jig handy when the spring bass bite starts is a very wise decision.Swim Jig Savvy Bass

Swim Jig Savvy

David A. Brown - February 26, 2021

Keeping a swim jig handy when the spring bass bite starts is a very wise decision.

See More Bass

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now