The smallmouth bass spawn period is weeks away, at this writing, and for those of us in the north country this does not mean we should wait to get ready. When fish proliferate the shallows, begin their annual dance, and do nothing more than cover their beds, a technique I focus on lots is the use of jig worms. A longtime favorite of mine, these simple presentations are outstanding at tempting fish when feeding is the last thing on their minds.
Size: 400 acres
Lake Type: Oligotrophic
Maximum Depth: 55 feet
Avg. Depth Fished: 5 to 15 feet
Water Clarity: Very Clear
Primary Fishery: Musky, Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Yellow Perch
Areas of Focus: Shallow sand and rock, fish cribs, deep wood.
Time of Day: Midday and late afternoon
Rod & Reel: 7ft Quantum Energy (medium heavy) Quantum Energy 30PTi
Line: Cortland Camouflage 8 lb.
Lure Used: Stankx Bait Company Stix
As soon as water temperatures encroach into the 58 to 64 degree range, we finally enter the spawn period. At this time, it is important to employ shallow water tactics and paying attention to detail seeing whether or not fish are moving throughout the shallows and bedding. On this early June afternoon, I fished in Oneida County Wisconsin for smallmouth bass. Due to the spawning period, I encountered very few actively feeding fish, and the ones caught were reluctantly plucked off beds with no other predators in sight.
In these shallow skinny water situations in which sight fishing the beds is the best option for any success, I like to employ a 4.25 inch stickbait produced by Travis Crosman at Stankx Bait Company. What I fish with often is a custom color, one of the first I suggested to be created in 2009 to be produced in the color lineup to resemble big juicy jumbo leeches, a smallmouth favorite. The color quickly became known as “HGH Leech”, a plastic formulated in a translucent dark navy/grey color, and contains specks of black pepper. This color contrasts so well in clear and murky waters, and when presented properly, it performs better than the real deal itself.
For sight fishing like this, probing the shallows by casting to all of the nests, depressions, rock piles, and sighted fish, I recommend fishing stickbaits on weighted worm hooks. The best weighted hooks I’ve found are produced by Owner and I prefer using them in 1/8 oz. and size 1/0.
Fishing this simplistic bait with six and a half to seven foot medium action spinning rods and 6 to 8 lb. copolymer line, I have been utilizing weighted stickbaits on nearly all smallmouth bass waters. No matter where I fish, it seems like big smallies can’t get enough of plastics that are made to resemble jumbo leeches.