Finessing Autumn Smallies

As the brisk autumn air continues to bring cooler temps, here in the north country, we’re forced to get things ready and prepare for yet another frigid Minnesota winter. Luckily for guys like me, the smallmouth in the area are forced to follow suit. To prepare for a long winter the bass are loading up in big schools and eating like piranhas, trying to fatten up as much as possible.

My good friend Rich Lindgren and I were excited to be able to get together and set some hooks as well as capture some good video footage for our respected filming ventures. I figured we would have a good day, but being we were getting out on the coldest morning of the year thus far, I didn’t expect it to be as good as it really was.

I awoke to temps in the mid 20’s and after busting out a stocking cap and Under Armour, as well as filling the Thermos with some much needed coffee, Rich and I were on our way.


We were fishing a small feeder river, north of the Twin Cities. Right after we launched we instantly noticed how much current we had to deal with. This past week we had lots of rain as cold fronts started pushing into the area and as a result the water was high, a bit dirty and was kicking substantially more than one would expect for this time of year. Also the water had dropped a good 15 degrees from just a few days ago and was now hovering in the low 40’s. When you start thinking of all that was working against us it was surprising that neither one of us were overly worried. The reason for this is simple, no matter the current conditions, these bass know that their living situations are only about to worsen and if they want to stay healthy through the winter than they need to be sure to get while the getting is good.


Rich and I start by throwing some reaction style baits and working a shoreline not far from the ramp. I started out throwing a Rapala DT-Flat 3 and a Biovex Stay 80 Jerkbait. Rich was going in between a Storm Wiggle Wart and Ima Flit Jerkbait. It didn’t take much time for myself to come to the realization that I needed to finesse it up and right away I found myself switching up to spinning rods equipped with 8 lb. Seaguar Fluorocarbon. Just a few casts and I was quickly rewarded with two solid smallies, both caught on a Jackall Flick Shake Worm with a 1/8 oz. Zappu Inchi Jig Head.

Rich had also made the change the same time I did and was also setting hooks. There was no denying that these fish were a bit thrown off but like I said, they still needed to eat. It just took a little extra coaxing to trigger some bites and probably even more importantly the bait needed to be on the bottom. Never do I recall them grabbing the bait while the bait was falling or even while the bait was moving, to my recollection every fish took the bait while I was deadsticking it. These fish were lethargic enough that they all still had mud on their bellies from tucking down in the muck.

All day we continued to catch fish while employing finesse bottom bouncing baits and not only did we catch quantity, but even better we had nothing but quality. It seemed like every smallmouth was around or well over 3 pounds, we really only caught a few smaller ones. All our good fish came on a mix of 3 baits, the Flick Shake Worm, a 3″ tube and Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver on a Picasso Shakedown Jig.


In the end it was a great day, we caught lots of good fish and had a great time doing it. Fall is always my favorite time of year and days like this that remind me why. Keep checking in for our video from the day, lots of action and some good points to help you on your next outing.

While winter insists on arriving you’ll know where you can find me living in denial one cast at a time.

See you on the water!

Welcome to JoshDouglasFishing.com! A site dedicated to my avid fishing career. Join me as I share my honest approach to chasing a childhood dream full of obstacles, failures and successes, while traveling across the nation competing and advancing to the sports highest levels. I’ll share all that I learn from new tips and techniques as well as the hottest tackle and equipment. Join me as I document the everyday rigors of tournament bass fishing from the business as a whole, to the practice and all the way to the weigh-in stage!

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