Every now and again I get questions about finding and catching a giant. Some guys don’t care about numbers. They’ll fish for days looking for that one big bite that’ll put a replica of a 5 or 6 pound smallmouth above their mantel, and give them pictures to e-mail to their friends. If that’s you, get your rod and reels ready because now’s a pretty good time to go looking for one.
If I wanted a big fish at this time of the year, I’d fish an underwater hump or sunken island out in open water. The lakes are down, but there’s still some current moving around. That positions the forage off the breaks. And where you find forage, you find smallmouth bass.
The best humps and islands are near channel breaks and around the deepest water in the lake. Don’t worry about how much water is on top. That doesn’t matter. Two feet or 20 feet is all the same. The big fish aren’t up there. They hold on the down current side of the breaks. That lets them take advantage of the current without having to fight it. They can rest in the slack water just below the break and wait for something to eat to pass by.
When you’re looking for a spot, think about the best place in the lake and go from there. That’s really what they’re doing. They can do that because they’re the biggest. They don’t have to fight smaller bass up in the shallows of a creek or in the rocks like we talked about last week.
My best bait — in recent years, anyway — has been a Strike King Red Eye Shad. You can cover water quickly with one and they look like the real thing, so even smart bass bite them. I pick my size by how deep the water is that I’m fishing and how big the forage is. I always fish with a shad color. My favorite is Chrome Sexy Shad, but that’s just me. Almost anything that looks like a shad will work.
There’s no one way to work your lure. Try ripping it, yo-yoing it, dragging it, hopping it and cranking it. Fish the break from several different angles, and fish above and below it. You’re not putting together a pattern like you normally would. These fish are individuals. You never know what might trigger a strike.
Now, I want to say one other thing before I go. Looking for the fish of a lifetime is tough. It’s easy to talk about fishing two or three days for one bite when you’re in your living room. It’s another matter when you’re out on the water and nothing’s happening.
Throwing a lure several hundred times without even a nibble can get frustrating. If you want to do it, fine — more power to you. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into.