With my tournament season slowing down for the winter, I have had a lot more time do get out and do some fun fishing, chasing Minnesota’s smallmouth bass. This time of year the smallmouth action can be at it’s best and small rivers can be one of the best places to get out and really whack ’em. With Fall upon us and the water temp falling the smallies have been starting to bunch up and prepare for the upcoming winter. When I say bunch up, I don’t mean four or five fish schools. I’m talking twenty or thirty good sized hungry smallies.
The key to catching them is to first find them and then trigger them to bite. A lot of the times if I can get one to bite, that will literally start a feeding frenzy. The bass will actually compete over my lure. It is non stop fish catching action. However the second I let one get off, it’s over. The bite will shut down just as fast as it took off. Usually, I count on a finesse presentation to get the job done, as 95% of the time it will do just that. Although just a week ago, I can remember fishing with my buddy Rich Lindgren and doing better by doing just the opposite. I remember I went from 8 lb. fluorocarbon to 16 lb., setting my spinning rod down for a 7ft. heavy casting stick. Rich was throwing a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig (Sunfish) and I was going between a NetBait Paca Craw (Green pumpkin) and a Biovex Real Craw (Real Zarigani), with a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Sinker (Green Pumpkin). We went from a relatively slow day to a great afternoon.
To find these schools I usually start with throwing a mid running crankbait until I locate the school, then I’ll position my boat so that I can make long casts. My proven cranks are a Rapala DT-6 (Red Craw), Storm Wiggle Wart, and a Biovex Amp and Mid Runner (Fire Tiger, Ayu). Once fish are found there is no better way to catch them then by slowing down and casting small soft plastics on light line. The last couple of days I’ve done really well by casting a 3″ Biovex Real Craw (Green Pumpkin), a Biovex Kolt Grub (Watermelon Seed), and a YUM tube (Green Pumpkin). All of which I was applying with 8 lb. P Line Fluorocarbon and light wire Gamakatsu hooks.
When the fish are real active I usually do well catching them off shallow rocky flats that are close to deeper water dropoffs. Once the bite slows down and the shallow bite dies, I’ll start working the dropoffs. I also look for wingdams to hold both good numbers and quality sized bass. Topwater can also prove extremely productive in the Fall, given the right conditions.
Well as I’m writing this the snow is already starting to fly here in Minnesota. The extended forecast looks very favorable for some quality smallmouth fishing. I’m also trying to get out to Lake Minnetonka a few more times before it ice’s over for the winter. I’ll post a report next week. I also may be heading to South Dakota to do some pheasant hunting next weekend. I don’t get out hunting to often it usually conflicts with fishing, but one of my good buddies promises an awesome time so wish me luck! Or better yet, I think it’s the pheasants that need the luck!