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Warming water and the Mohawk Clouser Minnow

Michael T

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I got out Saturday morning and was in the river by 7:30. The water was cold and I got my 7-weight rod back from being repaired. I was energized to say the least.


I re-acquianted myself with the rod, then waded into the spot where a smallie on every other cast is expected. An hour goes by without the slightest of taps. I'm not energized any more, I'm scratching my head wondering where the smallies got off to. I tried minnow patterns, double bunnies, crayfish, nymphs, and top water....nothing. I even considered calling it a day and going home to do yard work. That bit of insane thought didn't last, thankfully.


The sun had made it's way over the trees and onto the opposite bank, and within a few minutes, the bite was on. During the non-bite time, I expertly casted several flies into the trees and proceded to waded over to get them un-stuck. I walked all over the place, but the smallies didn't care; all they wanted was the warming of the sun and they waited. For the heck of it, I retried the same flies that didn't produce during the shadey time. They seemed to prefer the larger streamers more than the smaller bugs, but they still wanted no part of a top water popper.


For the next 6 hours and a good mile+ wade upstream, one streamer seemed their favorite: I'll call it the Mohawk Clouser Minnow. I tyed several last week in the traditional Clouser style, but agumented the "gill" area and I gave it a mohawk. I'll post a picture as soon as I can, but I'm sold on 2 concepts of a fall pattern:


1) During the fall season, fish warming water (this means not having to get up at O-dark-thirty).

2) Use larger flies (or lures, for you closet spinning folks)


How many times have we heard the mantra of how to tye a Clouser Minnow: make it sparse. No doubt, a sparse Clouser is great. But perhaps we need to refine the mantra to: makes it sparse, but give it a mohawk in the fall.

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Michael, I've experienced the same thing...the smallies sometimes prefer the warming water...often I've had luck with the later hours of the morning. It's more likely pronounced in the fall, but I've also seen this happen even during the summer.


It seems the heat increases their metabolism and when they're "ready", they go on a feeding binge. Some anglers may remember their odd success catching numbers of fish...return the next day but at a different time and...nothing...not a bite.


Your very observant!!!


Fish On.......

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regarding the slow bite in warm weather early mornings- I wonder if low O2 / highCO2 levels on our local algae rich or heavily overgrown waters could be the cause. after the sun rises the free oxygen levels follow and maybe the fish lose their hangover and get active. Just a thought. Great looking clousers Micheal!

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Jim, that's why I love fall fishing. Getting to the river around 11 provides a few extra winks before waking up. :blink: I agree about the summer heat as well. Some of my biggest smallies last year were caught between noon and 2 in the afternoon.


John, those are very good points. This stretch is on the downstream side of a "riffle". I would guess the O2 levels are reasonable, but have no way of knowing for shure.


Rich, you nailed it. I had the concept of making a Clouser minnow even more weedless. I love stripping a double bunny, but with all the grass, the downward facing hook is a grass magnet. The Clouser does a better job at not snagging weeds, but I think my Mohawk Minnow increases the weedless characteristic just a little bit more. I also wanted to give it a larger profile. Yes the smallies are about ready to put on their fall feedbags, but I would imagine they also want to maximize their calorie content per bite; hence, bigger forage. Well, it's my theory anyway.


It is amazing how much heavier the grass gets each year in the DuPage. I think in one respect, the pockets of no grass concentrate the fish. The smallies can probably see their prey float out of the grass and have more time to react, than when holding where the grass is so thick.

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WOW, thank you Bob! That's high praise coming from a guy who was the author of the Innovative Fly Tyer column in Eastern Fly Fishing magazine.


I've got to admit, the dubbed ones look far better than the ones with flat multi-colored chenille. A nice thing about using dubbing is the variation of color and "spikiness" the dubbing provides. I used a lighter green behind the eyes and down the body a bit, but I changed to a darker brown-gray in front of the eyes. I don't think the smallies really care about the color varition, but it sure makes these minnows look purdy.


I been experimenting with furry foam on crayfish and the Half-N-Half, it certainly provides a tecture on its own. I have a piece of orange furry foam I tye under the bumdbell eyes with purple rabbit strip above the eyes to suggest a Bluegill pattern on the Half-N-Half. But furry foam on top of the eyes.....hhhmmmmmm?

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