Expect small weights on Francis Case

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. — Bass fishing has improved on Francis Case Lake in recent years, but the B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Divisional competitors might be in for a tough time this week on this massive reservoir.

“Three years ago it seemed to be in a downhill cycle, and it seemed like all the big fish were gone,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jami Fralick. “Right now it is in one of those cycles where there are a lot of 2 1/2- to 3-pounders.” The South Dakota pro said he believes it will be tough to catch fish in that size range, though, because of summertime conditions.

“The whole key will be to catch a limit every day,” he said. “That time of year the fish really scatter. The smelt are like the blueback herring in the Southern lakes; they go out and suspend,” adding that the bass will do the same.

Fralick predicts 98 percent of the bass caught in the divisional will be smallmouth.

“There are just not enough largemouth to go looking for them,” he said.

Divisional anglers will find good fishing in the upper riverine section of the lake and the wide lower end.

Fralick recommends throwing Zara Spooks, Rebel Pop-Rs or spinnerbaits when current is flowing on the upper end. The best lures for the lower end are green pumpkin tubes on 1/4- or 3/8-ounce jigheads and a drop shot rig with any soft plastic that resembles a minnow or goby.

Lake Facts

Forage base — gizzard shad, smelt, minnows

Surface acreage — 102,000 acres

Shoreline mileage: — 540 miles

Expected water clarity — 6 to 10 feet of visibility

Dominant structure/cover — rocks, standing timber, stump flats

Predicted winning weight — 20 pounds, 8 ounces