Hunting smallmouth

Last week I said we’d talk a little about smallmouth bass from a Florida angler’s perspective. I’m on the St. Lawrence River right now hunting them. Here’s how I’m going about doing that.

First, let me say that I didn’t spend a lot of time doing Internet research or studying maps before I came up here. I didn’t think that was necessary because this is a classic river system. You can see both banks from your boat. That means that the largemouth will mostly be in the cuts and backwater areas while the smallmouth will mostly be out in the main river someplace.

The other reason I didn’t do a lot of research is because I like to be on a river and look at it. To me, you can learn a lot more about them by using your eyes and your Lowrance electronics than you can by looking at a computer screen or a paper map. I know some guys disagree with me about that but this is how I do it.

That’s especially true up here. There’s an island everywhere and they all seem to have reefs and other sunken islands around them. There’s no real way to pick out the ones you want to mark and fish unless you can see them and get a feel for exactly what you’re doing. Another thing is that there are so many of them that trying to study or mark all of them would be hopeless. It couldn’t be done.

As far as lures are concerned, I have just about everything I own at the ready. I launched yesterday morning with a Luck “E” Strike tube, a drop shot rig, a walking stick, a Snag Proof frog and a flippin’ stick on the deck of my boat. By the end of the day I had other stuff out. Today I’ll be expanding things even further.

The reason for all the tackle is that I don’t know where the quality bite will be. It could be in shallow water areas where a topwater plug will catch them, but it could also be fairly deep off one of the islands. In that case, I’ll need to drag a tube or work a drop shot.

And, keep in mind what we said last week; smallmouth bass are prone to moving. It could be that the shallow water bite goes deep or that the deep water bite goes shallow. Smallmouth bass are all about movement and change, more so than largemouth I think.

That’s the thing that I see with smallies. You have to be ready for anything and you should never believe you have them figured out. They’ll change on you before you know it.

As far as specifics go when it comes to this tournament, I have to say that there are a lot of fish up here. I can’t say, though, that I’ve seen a lot of really big smallmouth. I’m talking about the 5-pound-plus brutes you hear about at the docks. I’m sure that’ll change as everyone gets settled in. It almost always does.

Chris Lane’s column appears weekly on You can also find him on and or visit his website,

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