An irony of smallmouth bass – the fastest, meanest species of bass – is they're often caught with the slowest techniques, at least this time of year. That means drop shotting, dragging a tube, that kind of thing.
Expect Bassmaster Elite Series fishermen at the Evan Williams Bourbon Showdown on the St. Lawrence River to be doing exactly that – most of them, anyway. A BassGold Pattern Report for summer on the St. Lawrence shows that's how most tournaments have been won, but not all. Let's take a look.
What to Use
From the graph, it looks like a St. Lawrence bass – at least the smallmouth because largemouth do swim in the river – act a lot like Great Lakes bass: They're near the bottom and want drop shots and tubes. Drop shots account for 40 percent of wins and high finishes, but aren't a lot more effective than tubes in wins.
Moving baits like spinnerbaits, swimbaits, jerkbaits and topwaters have factored in less than 15 percent of first-fifth place finishes – more evidence that slower techniques should dominate. Just bear in mind that these Elite fishermen sometimes do things out of the norm.
Where to Find 'Em
The river itself has the bass to win, with BassGold showing 60% of wins coming there. Even so, when the weather permits, guys do run to Ontario to fish for the lake's plethora of monster smallies.
Bays off the river are popular spots to find smallies, but the river appears to fish like a mix of a river and a lake – almost like what BassGold calls a "riverine reservoir," meaning dependent on current. So things like points and ledges where bass can lie in wait are great spots for winning fish.
What They Need
Again bearing in mind this is the Elites, who sometimes blow out the weight averages, BassGold's weight graphs indicate Elite pros will need to average 20 pounds a day to win. That, of course, depends partly on the weather, and maybe on whether someone can find a pod of good largemouth.
Check out BassGold.com, a B.A.S.S. partner. It tells you what should work based on what has worked, not what "should" work. Plus it costs less than a gallon of gas a month and has the best digital maps in fishing. Save 15 percent on the one-year subscription price by using code BASS132 (case sensitive) when you sign up. Note that BassGold offers a three-day free trial.