This time of year can be a smallmouth fishing dream come true — if you know what you're doing, that is. Except for way up North, the water temperature in most parts of the country is between the upper 50s and the lower 60s.
That scatters the fish from shallow to deep, and it means you won't find all of them in one spot. We've caught them this week anywhere between 15 and 40 feet deep. It's jig fishing time. The bass are feeding on crayfish and doing it like there's no tomorrow.
Now, I'm a hair jig man, so I always start with an olive and orange Punisher Hair Jig. We usually concentrate on rocky areas with lots of crayfish running around, but weeds can be productive, too. It mostly depends on what's in your lake. For shallow water, I like to toss a 3/16 or 1/4-ounce model. If the water's a little deeper, I move up to a 3/8-ounce head.
The idea is to have enough weight to stay in contact with the bottom but, at the same time, keep everything light enough to get a slow fall. Like I said, I go with Punisher Jigs. The head is designed with the nose pointed up, towards the line tie. That means that you'll never lose contact with it no matter how deep or how shallow you're fishing. And it keeps it from hanging in sharp rock. It also has a flat spot on the bottom of the head.
That keeps it upright and makes sure it doesn't roll as you hop it along. That's real important. Look at it this way: Have you ever seen a crayfish roll over in circles? Well, neither have the fish. I might start with a Punisher Hair Jig but I don't keep it at just that. I always have a 1/4-ounce Punisher Peanut Shaky Head — always olive and orange — tied to a spinning rod and lying on the deck of my boat. It comes with a living rubber skirt that's made from real fine rubber strands.
They're not as fine as hair, but they are a lot better than the heavy rubber stuff most guys have to fight with on other brands of jigs. If I want more bulk, I'll add a Zoom Tiny Chunk in brown or green pumpkin red. I fish my Peanut Shaky Head anytime I find a shallow laydown or whenever I run across a wad of tree roots. It pulls through all that wood without getting snagged and looks just like the crayfish that live around those places.
That's really about all there is to it when the fish are everywhere and at every depth. Find some spots where there's crayfish and start throwing a jig.
You'll catch 'em. In fact, it could turn out to be one of the best fishing days of your life. Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.