A couple of weeks ago I said that this kind of fishing is my kind of fishing. The last two weeks have proved that what I said was true. The Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the St. Lawrence River and the Bassmaster Northern Open #2 on Oneida were out of this world as far as I’m concerned.
I’m really pumped. Summer smallies are the best fish ever to chase. They fight harder than any other bass, all the way to the boat and then some in most cases. Catch a big one and you know you have a tussle on your hands.
A lot of anglers have trouble finding them in the summertime, though. That’s because they roam when it gets hot. I’m a fan of that. Finding them and chasing them all over the place is part of the fun. That’s especially true in places like the St. Lawrence River where there’s a strong current running almost all the time. That makes them move even more.
The trick to enjoying the chase is to understand what’s going on with them. The first thing, and by far the most important, is that they are food oriented right now. Find what they’re eating and where it’s at. You’ll find them. Do your research before you make a cast. That might not be a lot of fun but it’s absolutely essential if you’re going to have a big day in smallmouth country.
Another thing — really two things — is to understand how they feed. By that I mean you should keep in mind that smallies feed by smell and by sight. That’s partly true of all bass but it’s especially true of summertime smallies.
It’s easy to attack the smell factor. I do it by fishing a drop shot rig with Berkley GULP! products. I think the smell holds better with them than it does with some other products. But that’s my opinion. Others may see it differently. Regardless, load up with whatever works for you and then use plenty of it. I use scent on hard baits at this time of the year, too.
I’m not going to make any recommendations concerning what specific baits to use because you can fish a drop shot with any bait in your boat, other than maybe some of your big hard baits. Go with what you think looks natural to the local smallmouth.
Hard jerkbaits will help with sight. They can see them from a mile away and they move slow enough to let the smallies get to them. Try different cadences and temps until you find what they want.
There are several good models on the market for you to choose from. As you might think, I have been fishing with the new Rapala Shadow Rap. I like it real well. Color is important. The fish have a while to look things over so you want something that looks natural to them. This is not the time to be creative.
As much as I love brown bass, though, I have to go green this week. There are some good smallies in the Chesapeake Bay, but I think the largemouth are bigger and probably easier to target.