After leaving Tommy Biffle and his Bugs, we worked our way downstream toward Waddington, stopping wherever we saw an Elite Series angler. Thanks to bright boat wraps and pairs of shallow-water anchor systems on the sterns, their boats are easy to spot. Photographer G. Dixon shot several photos of John Crews fishing in front of a campsite. Look for his photos in a gallery to be posted within the hour. Crews at the time had four bass, including what he called "one good one." Just downstream, J Todd Tucker was drifting parallel to shore and dragging a tube lure along the bottom.
At launch this morning, I asked him why he wasn't drop shotting like everybody else. "I seem to catch bigger ones on a tube," he said. "You can catch all the 3s you want," he added, "but 4s are your money fish."
You've probably read in coverage this week that tube lures, which traditionally are killers for big smallmouth in the Great Lakes region, are not as effective now that zebra mussels have colonized the rocky bottoms. Drop shot rigs, with the weight on the bottom beneath a short leader, are more effective. Snag one, and you might lose the weight, but you won't have to retie the hook and lure. Mark Davis said he packed more than 100 tungsten drop shot sinkers for the trip and has gone through many of them already.
Tucker is dealing with the zebra problem by going to very lightweight jigheads for the tubes. That makes it a challenge to get the bait down to the strike zone before the stiff current washes it downstream. "If you don't throw far enough past your spot, it won't reach bottom in time," Tucker said. Once the bait is on the bottom, he bounces it carefully along the rocks, wanting it to hang only briefly. "When it tightens up, you pop it over the rock -- and they eat it!"