Think shallow

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

September has been a crazy month. It’s usually pretty warm, but this year the weather has been unusually cool, especially the nights. That means the smallmouth are shallower than normal. In my area, fish that should be at 35 feet are between 3 and 15 feet. That’s pretty much true everywhere in the country.

I’d say that you should cut your usual September fishing depth in half if you want to find them. That’s a good place to start, anyway. And, I’d recommend you start with a topwater frog. They’re slamming those things just about everywhere right now.

My favorite is the Strike King Sexy Frog. I like Stump Jumper for a color but either one of the green pumpkin versions will do just as well. My line is the new Berkley NanoFil. I was involved in testing the prototype of this line, and I can tell you it’s really great stuff. It’s strong — I can’t break 8-pound-test with my hands — and it’ll hold a knot real good.

I throw it on my All Pro Smallmouth Guru 7-foot, heavy action casting rod. It’ll let you make the long casts you need to make so you don’t scare the fish, and it’ll help you pull them out of heavy, shallow water cover quickly so they don’t shake lose.

My reel is one of the new Lew’s Speed Spool models. They have several grades, and as far as I’m concerned they’re all good. I use the 5.4:1 gear ratio model. I want power when I’m fighting a big smallmouth.

Some of you will look at the price and think they’re too inexpensive to be worth anything. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m telling you they’re good reels — no, they’re great reels. Give one a try if you haven’t already.

When you’re fishing with the frog, don’t be afraid to move it fast. Smallmouth aren’t largemouth. They’ll hit something moving fast better than they’ll hit something moving slow. It’s their nature.

If you can’t get a topwater bite going I suggest you throw a crankbait. My favorite one is the Strike King Red Eye Shad. Match the size to the local forage, but don’t be afraid to go big. My best colors are Clear Sexy Shad and Gold Sexy Shad.

Don’t substitute this bait. It’s the best one on the market. I fish it any way that works. Sometimes cranking it through the water gets them, but other times you need to crawl it along the bottom or yo-yo. You have to keep changing it around until you find what works.

My All Pro Smallmouth Guru 7-foot, medium-heavy action rod works best for this. I want just a little more flex and give with a crankbait, but not too much. I use the same reel and the same gear ratio as I do with my topwater baits.

Get up in the shallows this September and October. You’ll have a better fall if you do.

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