My buddy Matt and I decided we just had to get out one more time before the weather hits single digits again across Minnesota. We left the Twin Cities and the temp was 30 degrees. When we arrived to our destination it was all of 19. Burr. I started strong with 3 quick smallmouths. All of which were over 2.5 lbs and one weighed in at 3.6 lbs. After that quick stint of greatness everything starting unraveling on me. I was faced with a problem I haven’t encountered here in a while. I am generally always a fluorocarbon guy but after trying all sorts of different lines in the cold over the years I have found that in this certain area and using this particular fishing style that 8 to 10 pound Berkley Sensation line fits me best. It isn’t as brittle as fluorocarbon and has some nice stretch to it. Usually I wouldn’t want that but since this area has so many rocks and snags it helps. Usually once I get dialed in I can differentiate what’s a snag right away and can usually use the stretch to my advantage to snap the lure off the rock. It also allows me to cast a light weight tube far on the light line. Also when the air temp is between 20 and 35 degrees it is easily manageable in that kind of cold. In the summer I would opt for 6 to 10 pound fluorocarbon but in the cold the mono works better for me. Although not this time. I’m not sure if it is that we were fishing in the teens or not but my line was freezing up like crazy. Literally into icicles. I snapped nice fish off, I snapped off on casts, I dealt with the line freezing right on the spool, it was a nightmare! I spent an hour retying up baits. I probably retied at least 12 times in that hour. Mean while Matt was using my other rod that was spooled with 10 lb Vicious Fluorocarbon and was pulling in fish hand over hand. The fluorocarbon wasn’t freezing up half as much as my mono. Everything that I thought I knew went right out the window. After an hour and a half, Matt was at 9 and I was still chilling (literally) with 3.
As the afternoon wore on the temp got up over 20 and luckily for me my line issues stopped. Good thing for me I over come things relatively quickly and the hook setting followed. In the next 20 minutes I evened us up 9 a piece. When we left that spot I had a small advantage of 14 to 9.
We arrived at the same spot that Rich Lindgren and I had fished a couple nights back. I started right where I left off and landed a nice 3 pound smallie. I really wanted to catch a 4 pounder before the night was over since I hadn’t seen one all week. Matt feeling the exact same way decided he was going to try to find some new water that no one had fished. He did just that. I saw him pull in two consecutive 3 pound smallies back to back and thought I better do the right “friendly” thing and move to where he was. Matt snickered at the move but accepted me nicely, even pointing out his newly found strategy. He said that it was extremely shallow in front of us for about 20 feet then it dropped of quickly. The drop off was full of basketball sized rocks, which made it also full of nice sized smallmouths. With only about ten minutes of light left in our day we worked the heck out of that area. In the end we finished with 34 smallmouth total. Matt caught 14 and I had 20. No four pounders, but still a nice day none the less.
I learned something interesting today and yet I am still not totally convinced it would happen that way again. I will have to test both lines in the same conditions another time to be 100 percent certain that is the way it is. Maybe it was just that particular spool of line or maybe it wasn’t. Looking at the upcoming forecast I can see that I will have a while to ponder it. Until then…Happy Fishing!! Or better yet, Happy Dreaming of the Day You’ll Be Fishing! Unless of course your in the South, then I’m jealous!