This week we are back on the St. Lawrence River out of Waddington, N.Y. I've fished here three times now and know exactly why it is the number one ranked fishery in the U.S. right now. Coming so close last year really has me anxious to get this one going. But, the fishery is much different this time around.
The water is way high to the point that they’ve pushed the tournament hours back to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We will be locking through the dam now so I may not get to make a cast until 10 a.m. each day. That morning bite was strong last year so we will see how that affects the event this year.
The St. Lawrence River itself is known as a great smallmouth fishery, and I have no doubt you'll see some big ones here this week. It seems as though finding those 5-pound fish that you really need to do well here will be the key. I haven't heard anyone crying about a lack of bites because the river is full of solid fish. It's just a matter of putting your bait in front of the big ones.
I’ve got all spinning rods at the ready to throw this week; a drop-shot rig, a Ned rig, and a Neko rig. The drop shot will be the major player though.
My drop-shot setup starts with an MHX-EPS-81-MLXF. It's 6-foot, 9-inch and is super-light with plenty of tip action to wear these big smallmouth down. I pair it up with a 2500-size spinning reel spooled with 10-pound Vicious Hi-Vis yellow braid with an 8-pound Vicious fluorocarbon leader. My bait is the Slammer and the Slim Slammer from X Zone Lures. It’s a well-known bait up here and smallmouth love it. It is hand-poured and very life-like.
The right hook is critical when drop shotting and there is no better option than the Mustad Titan X Wacky Neko. Size #4 works amazing for drop shots and once you set the hook real good on one the fish are not getting off. That big one that got off last year on Championship Sunday took the bait funny, and I knew he had a good chance of getting off. Usually, here they eat it perfectly and they’re hooked in the top of the mouth.
Y’all stay tuned and see what happens. You’ll see plenty of fish, and we will see how these 9 to 5 hours treat us. I’ve worked 9 to 5 before, and I know this will be a whole lot more fun!