“If there's a good wind, I'll get after them with a jerkbait and a medium running crankbait,” Martens says.
He favors a Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait in a shad pattern, and the Megabass MR-X Cyclone crankbait in a shad or crawdad color.
Other rods on Martens' deck would be rigged with a soft jerkbait, a ball head jig dressed with a small crawdad, and a 1/4-ounce homemade finesse jig tipped with a small chunk.
“A shaky head worm and a drop shot works well at Smith, too, but you'll catch bigger bass at that time of year with a finesse jig,” Martens says.
Martens targets “crawdad rock,” which includes chunk rock and baseball to softball size rocks. He also casts under the walkways leading to docks.
Prespawn Largemouth Patterns
“Channel swing banks that lead into a spawning pocket are where you'll catch the big females,” Martens adds.
Crawdad rocks are also a key to catching prespawn largemouths at Smith Lake, Martens points out. The same lures that coax bites from spotted bass work on the largemouths. The wind, or lack of it, determines whether Martens opts for jerkbaits and crankbaits or bottom lures such as the shaky head worm, drop shot or jig.
“You can't sit in one place and load up on the spotted bass or the largemouths at Smith Lake,” Martens points out. “After you figure out a pattern, stay on the move and pick the bass off one or two at a time.”
Smith Lake's slot limit of 13-15 inches is bringing about larger bass. In order for the slot limit to work its magic, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division urges fishermen to keep any bass they catch less than 13 inches in length. The remaining bass grow bigger because there is less competition for a finite forage base.
Striped bass weighing over 40 pounds swim in Smith Lake. The preferred bait here is live shad. It is illegal to possess blueback herring in Alabama, so don't use them for bait. Smith Lake's stripers grow about 2 pounds per year, which means a 20-pound fish is 10 years old. Put Ryan Creek on your hit list. The stripers grow fatter there.
Not only has the Alabama Power Company improved the fishing at Smith Lake by providing habitat, they'll give you GPS coordinates to these sweet spots. Get the coordinates here: alabamapower.com/lakes/fishdata.asp.
Before you visit Smith Lake or any Alabama reservoir, go to alabamabasstrail.org. Here you'll find detailed information about nine lakes and two major river systems, including fishing locations, productive fishing patterns, local guides, campgrounds and where to stay.
For more information, visit AlabamaBassTrail.org.