It’s all about the smallmouth

I’m up on Green Bay getting ready for the Mystery Lake event that isn’t a mystery anymore. I’m just about as excited as a bass angler can get. This is going to be a good one. I cut my teeth on smallmouth so it’s kind of like going back to the beginning.

This place is as varied as anywhere we’ve ever fished. I don’t pretend to know much about it but as of today (Monday) it looks to me like there’s man-made stuff, stained water, natural humps and reefs with clear water and a ton of rock to target. That’s the kind of stuff that lets everyone have a shot at catching them — lots of them.

One factor that I’m not too sure about right now is what stage the fish are in. These are northern bass. The water gets colder in the winter and warms up slower in the spring. They spawn later than most of what we’ve been chasing this year. As a practical matter, that means some of them might be in the postspawn mode as well as in their early summer mode.

Mostly in these kinds of waters you’re looking for a spot on a spot. That’s the classic pattern on a body of water like Lake Erie. But it’s possible that up here they might still be moving. That means the spot on the spot will likely be along a route to deep water, and that it’ll move every day as the tournament progresses.

Lure choice could be key. Maybe drop shotting is the way to go but it’s also possible that crankbaits, jerkbaits and other baits like that might be the hot ticket. They might be feeding heavily and bang anything that they think is swimming past them. Then again, they might be setting up for the summer and getting real picky. Who knows? (As you can tell, I’m still working my way into this thing.)

One thing that won’t change — or that will always change — is the wind. It’ll be a factor no matter what. It always is on these Northern lakes. They’re big and the wind always makes a difference. Even when we say it isn’t bad, it’s still blowing. It’s always around doing its thing. Sometimes it’s your friend and sometimes it’s your enemy. But it’s always there, messing with your fishing and your head.

Regardless, I’m really looking forward to this tournament. There’s something thrilling about fishing new waters, waters that few, if any, of us understand. It’s a leveling of the playing field in a funny sort of way. Most of us have little or no knowledge about Green Bay so it makes it fair. We’re all struggling to find the magic combination of spot and lure.

In some ways, that’s the fairest test of fishing ability. It’s new everything. We’re professionals. It’s our job to go out and find them and to make them bite. Out of it all will emerge the best Green Bay Elite Series angler, at least for this week.