There is two times during the year that increase your chances of catching the biggest Smallmouth Bass of your life. Those two times of the year include early Spring and Fall. During early Spring, the Smallmouth will migrate to the shallow flats from their wintering holes as they are focusing on spawning. Covering water and narrowing down the depth they are staging on will determine your chances of catching a few fish versus finding a large school. As Fall approaches, the Smallmouth begin to feed heavily once more as falling water temps indicate Winter is coming and preparation for hibernation is a must. This time of the year you will find fish all throughout the water column. There will be fish rushing shallow for an easy meal while others continue to stay offshore and hunt in “wolf packs” looking for schools of baitfish. Taking advantage of these feeding periods can not only give anglers the potential to land a giant, but also have an awesome day catching dozens of Smallmouths.
In my scenario, I covered numerous flats looking for the right one holding the better-quality fish. It is important when dissecting a body of water to have a wide selection of different baits readily available as some fish prefer some baits over the others. Smallmouth tend to be around the same size fish and when you find one nice fish, there will typically be more like it. I finally reached a new flat and casted 4 different baits without even getting a nibble. My initial thoughts were there is no way there isn’t any fish here. The fifth rod that I picked up happened to be a Drop Shot. The Drop Shot set up consisted of a Shimano Exsence 3000 paired with a G.Loomis NRX 822 DSR. Braid is key as sometimes the fish slurp the bait in and you can only feel the slightest “tick”. For braid I ran 15lb PowerPro Super 8 Slick V2 in Onyx to a 6lb Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon leader. A size 1 Owner Hooks Mosquito Light and 3/8oz Woo Tungsten cylinder Drop Shot weight completed the combo. I made one cast with a 5.5” Western Fishing Operations worm in Neon Shad and with a few twitches with the worm I happened to catch a fish that weighed 3.85lbs. My next cast was targeted in the same area and the next fish ended up weighing 4.32lbs. Soon after that another Smallmouth bit and weighed at 4.82lbs. I continued to pick apart this flat with my Drop Shot and the best 5 at the end of the day totaled 22.59lbs. The best part about this location is that I was able to come back the next morning and replicate the same bite from the day before!
The biggest advice I can give is to cover water to locate the right quality fish. As mentioned, you can often find the same size fish in an area. If you’re catching 1.5lb-2lb class fish, don’t be afraid to move on and take the chance of locating a different school. Having a selection of different baits at hand can come in handy as not every fish has the same appetite as the other. Understanding what the fish are feeding on whether it is crawdads or certain baitfish can help you key in on choices of baits to have ready. Having the ability to be versatile on the water can make or break your next adventure!