The calendar may say that spring is here, but Mother Nature doesn’t like to be fooled . Almost a month ago, we had record high temperatures around eighty degrees for several days. The water temperature in the Little Pigeon had risen into the low sixties, but I saw no sign that the French Broad smallies had started their annual pre-spawn migration. On Sunday, March 18 the water temperature was fifty-nine degrees and I had a good day on the French Broad River catching quality sized smallies. It has been all downhill since then with unseasonably cold weather and even some snow here in the foothills. Against my better judgment I decided to venture out today and to get a sense of what the fish were doing on the Little Pigeon after it came up a little bit during the week. I have noticed that during this time of year when the Little Pigeon rises from recent rainfall it stimulates the smallies from the French Broad to enter the river and make their pre-spawn run. I was not surprised to find that the water temperature had dropped significantly in the past several days and was now down to forty-nine degrees. I caught nine smallies in four and half hours of fishing. The biggest fish was slightly over twenty inches, but was very thin and only weighed three pounds and six ounces. A couple others were in the seventeen inch range and the rest were small fish. I will note that the larger fish looked like French Broad smallies. If you spend enough time on the water you will notice that the coloration of the resident Little Pigeon smallies look quite different than the fish in the French Broad. Even though all smallmouths can change their coloration by the “chameleon effect” and without going into detail here there are enough differences between the two that I believe I can tell a Little Pigeon smallie from a French Broad fish. Especially when the pre-spawn run begins. I will add that I am not a fisheries biologist and what I offer here is just anecdotal information and observations. Bottom line is that I believe the spawning run has begun although it has come in like a lamb. I am looking forward to warmer weather and improved fishing.

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