Kevin VanDam was looking forward to today's windy conditions. The perfect formula for catching smallmouth bass in clear water like the Niagara River is wind and sunshine, but wind is the more important of those two.
VanDam mentioned that fish haven't crushed a bait the last two days under calm conditions like they did the first day when the wind was blowing. But it hasn't blown all week like it is today, and cloudy skies are giving way to sunshine just past noon.
VanDam has been relying on two types of lures this week: 1) Strike King KVD Jerkbaits, and 2) Strike King Drop Shot Half Shells, a new lure that VanDam and Mark Zona helped design. All VanDam had on his boat deck this morning were baitcasters with jerkbaits tied on and spinning rods with drop shot rigs.
In the photos above, you can see the variety of jerkbait colors VanDam started the day with, and you can see a couple of the Half Shells he's been using. The Half Shell is a bait similar to Strike King's Dream Shot, but with a different action.
"A Dream Shot is a really lively bait," VanDam said. "The Half Shell has a different tail, and it's designed to stand out horizontally. It really imitates a baitfish. The fish in this river are really feeding on shiners a lot, emerald and spot-tail shiners. These are really good imitations.
"When you shake the Half Shell, instead of quivering like a Dream Shot, it has more of a dart to it, almost a jerkbait type action. Both of them are very good baits, but they have a uniquely different action."
So it's all about "jerkbait type actions" with VanDam today, whether it's in an actual jerkbait, or the soft plastic Drop Shot Half Shell.