It's winter, and the water temperature on Virginia and West Virginia's upland rivers is likely hovering in the upper 30s and lower 40s this morning. I have already been fishing on the New River once this year, with no success, but that was more because I am a mediocre at best, probably, in reality much less than mediocre, wintertime angler than because the fish weren't there.
This year, I would like to do the following concerning angling for river smallmouths.
1. Finally become competent with the jig and pig in cold water conditions.
2. Spend more time on the Maury River, a fine underrated smallmouth river near my Botetourt County, Virginia home.
3. Not become so consumed with spring gobbler hunting in Virginia and West Virginia that I don't go fishing for river smallies as much as I should. This will be the hardest objective for sure.
4. Return to the upper Rappahannock for the first time in several years.
5. Go on more late afternoon smallie excursions on the James in Botetourt County.
6. Go fly fishing for smallies at night on the New River with guide Britt Stoudenmire of the New River Outdoor Company.
Readers may note that there's no mention of my goals for catching 20-inch smallmouths. I've always felt "they will come when they will come." If I am reading the water correctly and making good decisions, I will catch fish in the 14-to 18-inch size range and eventually a 20-incher will be mixed in. If I am making poor decisions, then I will not catch big fish.
We will see how things work out.