This is the time of the year when you can combine numbers with size. But, like every kind of fishing, you have to know what you're doing.
Basically, there's two ways to catch them. The easiest is to find sharp breaks near creek mouths. What I like are places where the nose of the boat's in 20 feet of water and the back end's sitting in 80 feet.
The baitfish gang up along the break, and that pulls the smallies in to feed on them. Current helps a lot. Most of the reservoirs that we fish have hard drawdowns in the fall. This creates current, which keeps the baitfish in schools. If they stop drawing down the lake, the fish will scatter. You'll have to fish a much bigger area to catch them.
Another way to catch them is to just run around the lake in the open water and look for schools of baitfish. There'll be smallies under them every time.
It's my opinion that there is more than one group of smallmouth bass in a lake. Some of them hang out on the breaks most of the year. But other fish only come shallow once — when they spawn. The rest of the year they roam around the lake following the baitfish. Structure means nothing to them.
I'll tell you something else, too. If you fish the breaks, don't be surprised if you catch a bunch of green fish in with the smallies. We're catching almost as many largemouth as we are smallmouth this fall at Dale Hollow, and I don't think it's only here. I'll bet it happens in every lake.
The best lures for fall are spoons and the Silver Buddy. I use the 3/4-ounce size. Always vertical fish if you know where the school is. If you can't find the school cast out and jerk your lure back to the boat. Count it down to different depths until you find where they're at.
I like spinning tackle for this fishing. My rod is a 7-foot, 3-inch All Pro Smallmouth Guru model. I use a Shimano 2500 Stradic reel and 8- or 10-pound-test Berkley Trilene line.
If you're into baitcasting tackle, use a 7-foot, 3-inch All Pro model with a high-quality Shimano reel and 10- or 12-pound-test Trilene line. That'll work just fine, but I still think spinning tackle is better. In my opinion you can control your fish better with it.
I sometimes use Vanish fluorocarbon line in lakes when the water's real clear, but overall you'll do better with Trilene. Stretch is a good thing. It helps correct for mistakes. Besides, if you're using long rods you can handle stretch better. They take up a lot of line, which takes away a lot of the stretch.
Next week we'll talk about the fall topwater bite.
Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.