Tag Archives: Smallmouth Bass

7-6-12 – Vertical Jigging Crappie On Champlain

With a constant breeze from the north, my buddy Jamie (Fish Hound Outdoors) and I worked hard to fish structure for crappie. With temps predicted to climb into the mid 80’s, we got on the water early enough to get a few meals before we would be forced to retreat into the shade. To start the day off, we fished in a half and half mix of sun and clouds with a steady 10+ mph wind.

To combat the breeze, we positioned the boat perpendicular with the wind and fished upwind of the structure. Because the boat blocked the wind at first, the fishing was easy. Bites were easily detected and fish were plentiful as they were unpressured for a few days. After catching a few fish they became scarce. We started pitching our baits to both sides of the structure making sure not to go over the top so we didn’t snag. When those fish seemed to shut down we let out some line on the anchor rope and drifted downwind of the structure. We pulled some slabs in the slack water of the structure while battling the wind. I also pulled a few off the top of the structure suspending only a few feet below the stained water from recent rains.

Being so close to the structure, we spent the majority of the morning either dropping the jigs straight down or casting it only a few feet which gave the baits a good natural action as they swam through the water column to where the crappies were holding. With the bite being steady all morning I never switched colors or bait type. I used a pearl “Live” Baby Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures.

Throughout the morning we kept a few fish trying to release all the bigger and smaller fish. Most fish we kept were between 10-11 inches.

We got off  the lake for lunch and to clean fish so they didn’t spoil in the heat of the day. I think we got our meals!

After cleaning fish and lunch we met up with our buddy Mike for the afternoon bite. We tried trolling around for a bit with no luck. We found a lot of floating vegetation throughout the main lake causing lots of problems with our longlines and downriggers. After an hour of abuse from the conditions we called it quits and headed for the water chestnut mats to fish the hotels.

The wind was an issue as we cruised through prime flatfish habitat. We skipped over lots of pockets because of the wind only catching a few bluegill, pickerel, bass, and a lonely crappie.

After we fished through the hotels with minimal success we headed back out to the broad lake to fish more structure. The fishing picked up as the evening went on. We found that fish were more picky with their location on structure. Your presentation had to be perfect or else you wouldn’t get a bite. The wind had us taking longer casts at the bases of structure but the fish had some quality size.

Check out these clips on our YouTube Page!

The last fish of the night was a decent black pulled from the shady side of a deep water dock.

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5-26-12 – Memorial Weekend Bass

I had a few hours to kill between lawn and garden duty so I decided to hook up the boat and make a quick trip out to one of my favorite smallmouth lakes.  Upon arrival I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me.  The lot was full of pleasure boats and kayaks and the wind was creating a nice chop on the water.  My plan was to have a little fun sight fishing for bass but the conditions were not going to allow me to do that so well.

I motored to my first spot that year after year holds fish in decent numbers.  This lake is a good size body of water that does not see a lot of intense fishing pressure.  Most days it’s nothing to put 8-10 fish in the boat of two pounds or better.  It was almost impossible to see any beds on the shore as the water was stained and the waves were much larger than normal.  I was forced to rely on my past experiences on this body of water to catch some fish.  It’s very important to pay very close attention to details every time you hit the water, you never know when the conditions will throw you for a loop, or your GPS stops working and you are forced to find areas and small attributes on the lake floor that force you to use your good ole intuition to catch fish.  I focused on two areas in my search for fish, sharp breaks out of deep weed beds onto a hard bottom, and two sand bars that provide smallmouth with a nice warm place to make their beds.

Today the weapon of choice was a faithful 3″inch tube rigged on a weighted hook in pumpkin-seed color.  I was able to see one bed with a fish on it all day and was able to catch a nice 3lber, (this is the first fish caught on the video below.)  After an hour or so of fighting the wind and boat position I decided to use to wind to my advantage and drift the two sand bars I had mentioned earlier.  It was a pretty simple technique.  I positioned the boat so I would drift across the bar and started at the edge (deeper water) and worked my way in.  This worked great and saved a lot of frustration.  I was able to hook into three more fish one being a dink and two that where in the 3lb range. Check out the video on our YouTube Page.

Before two long, the lake was over run with pleasure boaters that apparently didn’t see me fishing so I decided to head off the water feeling pretty good that I was able to catch some fish in such difficult conditions.  It’s important to never get discouraged when you are faced with unexpected situations and conditions.  Trust your instinct and your past experiences to have an enjoyable day on the water.

5-25-12 – Another Day On Beds

I fished Friday for smallmouth again. The day started decent but not what I had expected. I check the weather the night before and they were calling for sun and only a little wind. I found nothing but clouds and 10 mph winds all day! It made for tough sight fishing but after fishing for a while, we were able to find a few pockets of calmer water that held some decent fish.

The setup was the same as my previous trip. I fished a 4″ Gary Yamamoto rigged weedless on a Gamakatsu EWG Worm Hook. I once again chose darker colors (mostly watermelon because that is what I had) on a red hook. I have hook sizes 1/0 to 3/0 and I mostly use the 3/0 because I like the way it matches up with the worm the best. Especially with a 4″ worm.

We fished for about 5 hours and caught 45 bass. The average size was probably only around 14″ but we caught a three over 19″ and 3 pounds. You can see a video of some of the better fish on our YouTube Page. The fishing was fast when it happened but we had a few long stretches where we couldn’t hook a fish even if we wanted to. The wind was moving us along far to fast when we did get bites it was already too late and the fish was gone.

Here’s a few bass from today’s trip

I even hooked into a pickerel… Big head but no body.

We found a good pocket in a shallow bay that was holding some big largemouth for this body of water. We were drifting over a rock bed and found a smallie bed that was holding two fish. We began casting to it without them even budging at the bait. That’s when we noticed a largemouth that dwarfed them by almost two-fold. It was easily a 20″+ fish. Without hesitation we started tossing senko’s, crankbaits, and every other lure in the box without as much as a glance from the bass. The second time through trying to entice this fish we found that there were four others with it; each being progressively larger. The bass were easily all over 4 pounds and I would venture a guess of up to 6…

I’ve had this same scenario play out once before and the ticket was a fly. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my fly rod that day and I haven’t had the chance to get back out there. From what I saw on that day and what I am hearing and seeing at work, the spawn is already on its way out and I would guess those fish have moved out from shore. Hopefully I can find one or two of them this summer as there aren’t many largemouth on this lake but they are usually big if you can find them.

Here is a nice one from last fall:

5-23-12 – Bass On Beds

I got out for the first successful trip of of the season today. I left work early and was on the water shortly after 4pm. After a few, mostly unsuccessful trips the past two weeks, I was ready for the fish to turn on. With little to no wind and bright sun, I was sure we would be able to see any bed on the lake from a mile away.

The worst part part of this particular lake is that the water is never super clear and you can’t always see the beds even if they are only in a few feet of water. The best part about this lake is that the entire shoreline is ideal for spawning habitat. After fishing this lake many times during the spawn over the years, I have learned that there is a bass bed just about every few feet along the shore and especially if there is a rock nearby. The best strategy is to fish slow and make casts every two to three feet alone the shore. If you have the patients to fish a cast all the way back to the boat, the bigger fish usually spawn deeper. I have a few spots that I know larger fish hold so I use up most of my patients on those locations.

Within only a few casts, we had each boated a fish. The average size fish for the lake isn’t huge but the numbers are decent for an inland pond in Vermont. In a little over three hours we boated close to 60 bass. Only one was a largemouth but we saw a few nice one guarding beds. I’ll be giving them a crack soon! The rest were smallmouth with the largest being 19.5″ and weighing in a 3 pounds 7 ounces. I should have some videos up soon!

We fished Gary Yamamoto rigged weedless on a Gamakatsu EWG Worm Hook. On past trips, I have found that darker colors work better on this lake. The fish don’t target black over watermelon but I do find that I get fewer bites with colors like white and pink. As with many people, when fishing beds, I like to fish slow. Cast into the bed, wait and twitch if anything. If the fish doesn’t take it fairly quickly I will reel in and wait to see if a bass swims back on the bed. Pretty simple tactic.

I think because of limited pressure on this lake, these fish hit immediately. It sure makes for some fun fishing! If you wait to crank up your slack, there’s a good chance you will gut hook the fish. It’s always a good idea to be vigil so you can release them to fight another day!

Here’s a few of the fish from the afternoon

5-16-12 – Stormy Day Of Fishing

A buddy and I made plans to head to my camp Wednesday after work in hopes that the warming water temps would be pushing the smallmouth up towards shore for the spawn. On a recent trip (Finally Put The Boat In), we found that some bass were moving up but overall only a few fish had made the seasonal migration. After a few more days, it was sure to be good!

Mid day, the weather service began issuing severe thunderstorm warnings across the state but the skies were still blue and there was no wind. Perfect day for bed fishing! Of course, as I started on my way home, the skies as I crested the heights in Northfield were dark and stormy. We figured we had at least an hour on the water before the weather would push us off or sink the boat as we tried. Either way we were going fishing!

It got worse than this after the next mountain range!

We got on the water with clear skies above us but darkness on the horizon. The first few casts produced bites but we were still only able to boat a few fish throughout the day. The fish that were biting were right on shore but as we drifted along, we came across many beds in the 5-7′ depth range. Very unusual for the lake we were on from the years that I’ve been at it. I guess the lake needs a few more days till its worth going back again.

We fished a good portion of the west shore as it provided the best seclusion from the wind and in past years has held more fish than anywhere else on the lake. Not necessarily the biggest fish though. As we went along with on our drift, the clouds crept closer and closer until we hit a point that opened us up onto the widest part of the lake. This was when we realized we needed to make a change  if we hoped to get out of white caps and heavy winds.

Not wanting to fish the same shore again, we went across to the south east end of the lake where the wind looked manageable. Boy were we wrong… We fished that stretch of shore faster than ever before. It was nearly impossible to effectively fish a cast with anything but a crankbait. As we reached the southern extent of the beat it started raining a bit. We called it for the time and started motoring back to the dock. The waves were splashing over the boat making the ride back not very enjoyable.

After unloading the boat, we decided to hang close to camp in case the skies cleared. We figured the best way to pass the time was with some brookies. We fished two small brooks and a beaver pond with a few fish taking the bait. Native brookies have some of the best colors in the wild world! We posted a video of one brookie  on our Facebook page. It was just after 7 pm at this point and we decided with the sparse thunder booms still lingering, we shouldn’t get back out in an aluminum boat! I knew of another smaller pond with bass in it on the way home so we beat feet there to look for some beds within casting distance of shore.

We were successful in finding some beds that we could cast to. The first bed we found had two bass on it. One male and one female. We could tell there was both because they were doing a mating dance where the male was nudging the female in an attempt to release some eggs. It was pretty cool to see. I wish I had my underwater camera to try to get some footage of it! We were able to catch the male once. You can see a video of the bass on our Facebook page as well.

Even with the poor weather conditions the day was still a success in my book!

5-11-12 – Finally Put The Boat In

So after a few full weeks of working every day it was a nice to have a personal day. At least until 4pm when I had to go to my weekend job that is! I came across a few cool things since my last post.

In the past two weeks, I came across seven license plates. Six were old and just one was a newer model. Here’s one of the better pictures I managed to take in the cold water before my hands froze.

Opening day of turkey season I was heading out to my spot around 4:30 am. I had my decoys set up and was just about to sit down at 4:45 when a partridge flushed from right where I had picked to sit. It startled me pretty bad but I stayed for 45 minutes before realizing the turkeys had moved on to a new patch of woods. The following day I was passing by and kicked the grouse out again. With a quick peek into where she flushed from I found out why she was holding so tight. I snapped this picture of her nine eggs before vacating the area quickly in an attempt to not disturb her further. I returned the following day and she is still sitting on the nest so she must be fine with my passing by. I found a spot 75 yards away that I can watcher her from without being a threat. I will work on more pictures of her on the nest but its pretty brushed in.

I went out turkey hunting this morning and had an unsuccessful attempt with the longbeards I have been seeing. I called in four hens but called it quits so I could finish up mowing the lawn before my buddy showed up around 11am to hit the water.  The birds are there just not making much for noise so far this season.The quality keeps me coming back so hopefully I can connect one of these days!

A nice looking double beard!

Around 11:30 am, we launched the boat at my camp on rough water. Days like today I usually skip bass fishing and go search for native brookies in the small streams surrounding my camp. Regardless, the time of year is just about right for the bass spawn so we shoved off after warming the motor up. The water temp is still a bit cold for the spawn but being mid-May it won’t be long till the beds are occupied.

We drove across the lake trying to get on calmer water. The spot we began at was still rough but is usually a good early season spot for spawning pickerel. I figured if nothing else we would catch a few toothy fish as they spawn as cooler temps than the bass. As we were drifting in and getting our rods ready for the day we could see beds. We figured it wouldn’t take long to be on fish!

That was unfortunately not the case. We fished a good deal of the east shore of the lake as it offered a slight break from the relentlessness wind. We went close to an hour without a bite before making a move to the north end of the lake and on the west shore. The water was much calmer which allowed us to fish slower and prime bedding areas.

On the first dock we fished, I missed a bass. It got off with about half of my rubber worm after a few cranks towards the boat. I quickly re-rigged my presentation and began casting again. A few more casts at the same spot produced my first bass at camp this summer! Not a monster but it was good to be back at it! I’m sure I will have some much better bass to post throughout the summer.

We managed to hook into a few more bass throughout the day but the bite was slow. Biggest fish was right around 15″. Hopefully the spawn isn’t over! Remembering that the fish on the Connecticut River were spawned out has me concerned but I think the time is yet come. We were off the water around 2:30 pm with the intentions of hitting a small brook for a quick pit stop on the way home.

If you look back at a post back from early April titled “Scouting For Trout And Turkey“, I talked about how I had found some brookies cruising around in pools that I like to fish in the summer. One of the mentioned pools was where we hit today and it was still loaded. We either caught fish, hooked and dropped them, or had chasers nearly every cast. The water is clear to the bottom so we could see exactly what the fish were doing. Next trip out I’ll be sure to bring the GoPro and fly rod!