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UPSmallie

Smallmouth Topwater Help?

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Hey guys, I'm still a little puzzled after this one and maybe you guys can help me out.  I fished a river mouth today probably from 7:30 PM till 9:30 PM.  Around 8:35 PM a decent sized smallie, maybe 18-19 inches, 2.5-3 lbs started jumping out 100 ft from shore in weird, slow, erratic leaps.  It did this maybe 35 times in a minute and a half.  No idea what was going on out there, maybe a big pike or muskie.  I didn't notice any flies or bugs hatching either.  I tied on my Heddon One-Knocker and bombed it out.  After a little bit the smallmouth blew it up!  It jumped clean out of the water, but completely missed the lure.  I was waiting to feel weight before setting the hook, but it never came.  The hooks are razor sharp too.  A little later I switched to a Heddon Super Spook Jr.  Smallie comes right up in the tail wake and slaps it!  Nothing still.  The last thing I had any action on tonight was a little black jitterbug.  The fish came up and lunged at it, but completely missed the thing once more.  Was this smallie half blind or am I missing something?

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Half blind is a possibility or maybe the fish was trying to shake a hook that was in its mouth. 

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Are you sure they were smallmouth? This weekend I had a pike jumping my over my arashi top walker 3 times. Smallies are eating machines, I don't think they'd miss an easy meal like that. 

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A lot of times smallies will "coral" bait against the surface and crash into them. Could be what you were experiencing? In any case, as far as your hook-up problem goes, next time try not to set the hook too soon. I usually wait until I feel weight before pulling back. That might help you out.

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sounds like it was trying to shake a hook, when they are actively feeding some will clear the waters surface, but not many,... they dont like to waste undo energy. Nor do they miss consistently, unless your moving it to fast

 But when they are trying to shake something they will try shaking it underwater first, then clear the waters surface and shake violently using the lures weight to fling it out of their mouth

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Thanks guys for the help.  It is more than likely that it probably does have a hook in it's mouth, probably from someone bait-fishing with worms using weak lb test.  I saw the fish's full body multiple times and can confirm it was a smallmouth, as I've seen and caught pike in the same river before.  That's a good theory Crestliner.  I've had largemouths bump hula poppers before, but never commit and get hooked, so there definitely could be a correlation.  I actually didn't try to set the hook on any of the hits as I was, like you said, waiting for the weight.  The next time I fish this spot I'll try slower walk-the-dog retrieves.  It almost seems like I get more fish on faster short bursts, but like you guys said, that might have led to all the misses.  I'll keep you all updated.

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Can't complain.  Went back out this evening and got a 31 in pike and a 15 in smallmouth using a 1/8 oz blue and silver Little Cleo in a span of about 15 minutes.  Topwater bite was stone-cold.  Time to break out the Lemon pepper and Old Bay Seasoning :) 

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Usually, if I'm getting hits, but not getting a decent hook set, I'll either change my retrieve slightly, or immediately follow with something that can mimic a dieing baitfish like a grub or fluke.  Having a follow up bait tied on is never a bad idea. 

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Thanks Turkey Sandwich.  That is a great idea.  I grabbed some Zoom Superflukes actually because of this theory.  I found a good video on it on youtube too.  For casting to fish off of a missed blowup, how do you rig your grub or fluke?  I've been thinking about either jigheads or for some reason carolina rigging with an off shank hook.

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It all depends on conditions and how active the fish seem. I'll typically rig a 3-5" grub on 1/16-1/8 oz ball jig.  The fluke, depending upon how slowly I want it to die/how little action I want to give it, will get rigged on either a 5/O EWG or a 4-6/O weighted swimbaits hook (preferably with a screw lock for the bait).  High vis braid is also helpful because it allows you to get better distance casting really light baits (weightless fluke) and the visibility helps detect light strikes, especially if the situation calls for dead sticking your follow up. 

This technique is also really effective when your buddy hooks a smallmouth and other fish follow the fight back to the boat.  It's a really effective way to pick off numbers once you "activate" a school with a reaction bait.

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I'll bet that smallie ate something that got stuck in it's throat. Maybe it had a big craw that was being particularly feisty or a sunfish that got it's spines up and stuck in it's throat. They'll jump just the same when that happens as they do when they're being caught. The hook is a possibility, if it was down in it's throat where it was causing issues. A hook elsewhere in the mouth is unlikely to get a second thought from a fish. Once pressure is released from the hook (line breaks or they get slack), the fish's distress stops and they quit fighting. 

Smallies are notorious for ramming a bait to try to stun it. They'll crash into a potential prey item in an attempt to stun it, especially something moving quickly and/or erratically (say like a spook for instance :) ). It can be very frustrating when they do it repeatedly some days, but the risk is worth the reward. 

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The biggest smallmouth I have caught on topwater was with a Zara Spook.

 

:fishing-026:

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Wow!  Throwing Topwater Paid Off big time for me tonight.  Fishing my One Knocker Spook and had a monster smallmouth jump 100% out of the water at it.  I'm guessing to stun it or something because no hooks.  Fished all kinds of stuff and finally came back to the One Knocker.  Worked all kinds of shoreline and then had one hammer it probably 25 feet out in 6 FOW over submerged weeds.  Put up a heck of a fight as I was going nuts and couldn't believe he actually ate it and not just bumped it.  Came out to 3.24 lbs and 18.5 inches.  My personal record!  Probably 30 minutes after sunset in the twilight before dark came.

PR Smallmouth.JPG

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Same thing happened with me today. Not the jumping but the fish completely missing the lure. I was using a popper and worked out good once they started to take it.

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Great fish! Big smallmouth love spooks, and it's good to see your persistence pay off.  Cheers on the new PB!

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Yeah they can be pretty confusing sometimes, but definitely worth hit once they get hooked.

Thanks Turkey Sandwich!  Always awesome to see the fish hit and then realize it's on :)  

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