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AJ Polley

I Can't Get Smallies' Attention

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This summer I just started fishing a spot on the Flint River with a bunch of my buddies. The other day I went out and I told my friends i was going to go and catch a monster. A few days before, another friend was with me and showed me this spot where he is almost always guaranteed a fish. He was running a white Spinnerbait, and a huge Smallmouth took his lure because his knot failed. Bound and determined to catch this monster, I moved to the spot where I thought his bed was. The water was surprisingly clear, and sure enough, this bass was sitting there surrounded by a couple other Smallies. It was huge, probably close to 18+ inches. I floated my Spinnerbait by him 5 times, using a smooth reeling technique, and then a couple that were a little more jerky. The fish didn't seem to care about my lure, and slowly just swam away. I was really discouaged, so i tied on a jig, but it wasn't getting any attention from the fish either. I know there's a lot of factors that probably contributed to why the monster wouldn't bite my lure, but i think its because I had it tied to a steel leader. But anywhere else I fish for bass, they still attack my Spinnerbait with the leader on it. If anyone could help me out, tell me what I was doing wrong, it would be much appreciated.

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If guys only knew how many times their lures pass by a fish that just ignores it, they would be very frustrated. It happens all the time. Most of the time when we don't get bit, we just assume there are no fish present. There are a lot of factors that keep bass from hitting your lure. There is no way to tell why that fish didn't bite. Bass are usually only in an active feeding state maybe 30% of the time. If you could see this fish that plainly, he could also see you. The leader may have been the problem, it may not. Let the fish rest a few more days and go back again. Be stealthy and sneak up on the spot. Maybe you'll get another shot at him.

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Maybe they didn't want to eat a jig or spinnerbait? Maybe they werent in a mood to eat? Maybe you alerted the fish of your presence and they got weary? Getting a big fish to bite again quickly after feeling a hook is near impossible. Too many factors to boil it down to one certain thing. 

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That's fishing. The ones you don't see are sometimes the ones you get. I don't do too much sight fishing. Hope you get him. 

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Throw a Senko!!  :lol:  Did you see a bed?  If so soak a bait on the bed.  

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2 hours ago, TOXIC said:

Throw a Senko!!  :lol:  Did you see a bed?  If so soak a bait on the bed.  

Even if you don't see the bed, work a senko slowly around the area you think the bed is in. Could also try a drop shot as well -- you just want to annoy that fish to the point it starts biting!

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A steel leader? Are you fishing for redfish or speckled trout in Louisiana?

 

You do not need a steel leader to fish for smallies or any bass lure, be it a spinnerbait, Chatterbait, buzzbait, Whopper Plopper, frog, toad, and all other bass baits. In fact, the smallies are probably thinking "who is this crackpot, presenting a bait with a steel leader? Must have taken the wrong turn at the Gulf of Mexico."

 

Think small. Go with the following and see if your luck changes:

1. 5'5" to 6' light or ultra-light spinning rod.

2. A small spinning reel, not over a size 1000.

3. 4 to 6 pound fluorocarbon line.

4. Find a pack of 1/64 jig heads in the fly fishing department. Gold or silver will do.

5. Get yourself some one-inch white grubs with curly tails.

 

Spool the small spinning reel about half to three-quarters of the way on the spool. Do not overfill the spool. You don't need all that line. Overfilling will destroy your setup when the line flies off the spool.

 

Then, using a Palomar knot tie the small jig head to your line (after you have run the line through the rod's line guides).

 

Put the one-inch white grub with a curly tail on the jig head. Curly tail can go in any direction.

 

Be watchful of line twist. It will happen. If it does, remove the jig head, pull the line off the spool, and then using your thumb and forefinger respool the line tightly back onto the reel. Then retie your jig head.

 

If you get a bad twist you can always change out spinning reels so take a couple for spares.

 

Cast out - let fall- then reel back to you fast. Or slow. Or in between. Go with a stop and go pattern. Let the grub fall in front of the fish. Run it through any beds you see.The smallies will tell you what they want.

 

If you want to have some fun with steel leaders, hit the Potomac River out of Aquia Creek and fish for snakeheads. If you8 want to have some fun with fluorocarbon, fish for smallies. Just be mindful of line twist.

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On 6/27/2018 at 12:14 PM, Sam said:

A steel leader? Are you fishing for redfish or speckled trout in Louisiana?

 

You do not need a steel leader to fish for smallies or any bass lure, be it a spinnerbait, Chatterbait, buzzbait, Whopper Plopper, frog, toad, and all other bass baits. In fact, the smallies are probably thinking "who is this crackpot, presenting a bait with a steel leader? Must have taken the wrong turn at the Gulf of Mexico."

From another post @AJ Polley made, it looks like he's fishing the Flint River in MI.

 

They have pike there, and that's probably why he was running a steel leader.  I would have because you never know when a pike will show up, and when they do, it you're not running a leader, you will lose lures.

 

Some folks are OK with that, they consider it the price of admission.

 

I like catching the pike, and I catch all kinds of smallies (in very clear water) with leader rigged lures and baits.

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Sometimes, no matter what you through, they ain't gunna bite.  It is just that simple.  This is what keeps us coming back. I seldom get to rivers but when I see stubborn fish on beds in the lake and if all else fails, I throw a heavy dropshot  with a trick worm on them. If nothing I move on

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9 hours ago, Further North said:

From another post @AJ Polley made, it looks like he's fishing the Flint River in MI.

 

They have pike there, and that's probably why he was running a steel leader.  I would have because you never know when a pike will show up, and when they do, it you're not running a leader, you will lose lures.

 

Some folks are OK with that, they consider it the price of admission.

 

I like catching the pike, and I catch all kinds of smallies (in very clear water) with leader rigged lures and baits.

Thanks, North. I did not know pike were in the waters.

 

I was fishing the Potomac a few weekends ago and it was so hot my buddy and I parked the boat under the train bridge in Aquia Creek to get some relief.

 

I flipped my Senko at a bridge piling and something hit it hard and kept going. Could not turn her. Probably a snakehead or a big catfish or a striped bass. Line popped and she was gone. Of course, a steel leader would have kept her on the line, but no respectful bass would hit my Senko if I had a steel leader.

 

But I am still concerned about having pike hit a small smallmouth bait and would think one would get more strikes from smallmouths than pikes when throwing smaller baits.

 

This is what makes bass fishing so much fun and open to discussion. What works in Michigan may not work in Virginia.  Thanks for the input. Now go out there and nail some of those green monsters.

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2 hours ago, Sam said:

Of course, a steel leader would have kept her on the line, but no respectful bass would hit my Senko if I had a steel leader.

I catch both large mouth and smallies on Texas rigged soft plastics all the time...with a leader.  My last musky of 2017 was a 40" fish on a 7" Senko , Texas rigged on an 8/0 Trokar tied to the end of about a foot of 30# Tyger Leader...now you've got me wondering if I can pull that off on a 5" Senko and a bass...hmmmm...experiment in play...

 

2 hours ago, Sam said:

 

2 hours ago, Sam said:

But I am still concerned about having pike hit a small smallmouth bait and would think one would get more strikes from smallmouths than pikes when throwing smaller baits.

2 hours ago, Sam said:

 

Pike...particularly smaller ones...Will hit anything. Often with ferocity that makes by think you've got a decent fish...only to find out it's another 18" hammer handle.

 

2 hours ago, Sam said:

This is what makes bass fishing so much fun and open to discussion. What works in Michigan may not work in Virginia.

It really is.  It's also fun to have a discussion on a place like Bass Resource where there are open minds and every one doesn't get defensive about things.

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On 6/30/2018 at 8:05 AM, Sam said:

Thanks, North. I did not know pike were in the waters.

 

Using spinnerbaits, I catch a lot of pike while fishing for bass. my PB is a 5 pounder and i had a steel leader on.

 

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On 6/27/2018 at 12:03 AM, Scott F said:

If guys only knew how many times their lures pass by a fish that just ignores it, they would be very frustrated. It happens all the time. Most of the time when we don't get bit, we just assume there are no fish present. There are a lot of factors that keep bass from hitting your lure. There is no way to tell why that fish didn't bite. Bass are usually only in an active feeding state maybe 30% of the time. If you could see this fish that plainly, he could also see you. The leader may have been the problem, it may not. Let the fish rest a few more days and go back again. Be stealthy and sneak up on the spot. Maybe you'll get another shot at him.

 

On 6/27/2018 at 12:04 AM, CroakHunter said:

Maybe they didn't want to eat a jig or spinnerbait? Maybe they werent in a mood to eat? Maybe you alerted the fish of your presence and they got weary? Getting a big fish to bite again quickly after feeling a hook is near impossible. Too many factors to boil it down to one certain thing. 

 

On 6/27/2018 at 7:19 AM, Spankey said:

That's fishing. The ones you don't see are sometimes the ones you get. I don't do too much sight fishing. Hope you get him. 

 

All of these. I have seen fish that will not bite anything. Zillions of times. And I have seen fish that hit anything the second you throw it to them. But usually when I can see them and get bit, it takes more work than when I can’t see them. Of all fish, I have seen more small mouths not bite than any other fish. Fish don’t always eat. They spend a lot of time just sitting around doing nothing. Or organizing the algae farm in their nests. I always think that whatever factors we know, like temperature, time of year, types of baits, etc. there’s probably dozens of things we dont know. Like variations in acidity, dissolved nutrients and other water variables. Or they might just be full and we missed the bite. I assume there a lots of reasons fish just do not bite sometimes. So I try to go fishing more often so I’m there when they are biting.

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On 7/2/2018 at 9:21 AM, CrankFate said:

 

 

 

All of these. I have seen fish that will not bite anything. Zillions of times. And I have seen fish that hit anything the second you throw it to them. But usually when I can see them and get bit, it takes more work than when I can’t see them. Of all fish, I have seen more small mouths not bite than any other fish. Fish don’t always eat. They spend a lot of time just sitting around doing nothing. Or organizing the algae farm in their nests. I always think that whatever factors we know, like temperature, time of year, types of baits, etc. there’s probably dozens of things we dont know. Like variations in acidity, dissolved nutrients and other water variables. Or they might just be full and we missed the bite. I assume there a lots of reasons fish just do not bite sometimes. So I try to go fishing more often so I’m there when they are biting.

In my experience, a Northern you can see is even harder to get to bite than a smallie. As for the leader issue, i avoid leaders as much as possible in my northern infested waters. I want to keep from inhibbitting the action of the lure as much as possible. I feel like with moving baits such as spinnerbait, swim jigs and crankbaits, the odds are lower for the northern to ingulf the bait. I will admit though, when there is the threat of a northern biting me off, i am less apt to slow down and pause the baite and i more ready to swing at the slightest tap. This is more the case however with my spinning tackle using 6-8lb line than it is with casting tackle and 12lb+ line. 12lb line seems to provide significantly more protection against those teethy critters.

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20 hours ago, Bdnoble84 said:

As for the leader issue, i avoid leaders as much as possible in my northern infested waters. I want to keep from inhibbitting the action of the lure as much as possible. I feel like with moving baits such as spinnerbait, swim jigs and crankbaits, the odds are lower for the northern to ingulf the bait. I will admit though, when there is the threat of a northern biting me off, i am less apt to slow down and pause the baite and i more ready to swing at the slightest tap. This is more the case however with my spinning tackle using 6-8lb line than it is with casting tackle and 12lb+ line. 12lb line seems to provide significantly more protection against those teethy critters.

It seems to be a "what works for you" situation.

 

I catch hundreds of fish, smallies, large mouth, pike, walleye and musky every year on rods rigged with leaders.  Some are fluoro carbon, most are wire of one kind or another.  All three of my biggest smallies were caught on wire rigged baits; two on Texas rigged Smokin' Roosters, one on a #5 Mepps.

 

Back in Mid-June, I spent a day with a friend, he doesn't like leaders, I (obviously) do.

 

It wasn't a great day, just under two dozen fish...but we caught exactly the same number, each.

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1 hour ago, Further North said:

It wasn't a great day, just under two dozen fish...but we caught exactly the same number, each.

Oh...hey...on the above:  I caught three more pike than he did.  He had two on (at least we think they were pike, coulda been little muskies)...they popped his line, cost him two Rapalas and a spinner...

 

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This actually happens a lot in my lake, which is in NH and it's clear water.

 

First, you just have to try more baits.  Typically, these fish will respond better to a jerkbait than a spinnerbait, especially if you can see them clearly from where you're sitting.  Also a wacky rigged senko/yum dinger will usually do it.

 

Also, this is when color can make a big difference.  Sometimes that's all that's needed to trigger them.

 

Finally, it's also when patience plays a big role.  Sometimes, it literally takes 15-20 casts to get them to bite.  Put the idea of "maybe they're just not biting right now" out of your mind.  Fish are hard-wired to bite things that move past them in the water.  If you throw enough things at them in enough colors enough times, they will eventually bite.

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Because I fish the Canadian Shield, I lose lures everyday to pike. The smaller pike are the worst. I have landed quite a few 40" plus pike with 6 lb. test and no steel leader, but those small ones will cut your line like a knife. Still I don't use steel leaders because they cut into my bass catch. 

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My 2 cents on triggering a bite in that situation...

 

Speed..Speed..even greater Speed.

 

I've had success triggering an otherwise reluctant fish going the opposite of a standard finesse presentation. Using either a very heavy tube/ compact jig that you can rip/hop and punch at the fishes face can trigger insanely violent strikes. 

 

Also, burning either a 3.8 sized swimbait or a smaller crankbait at lightening speed past the fish's face can equal that same violent reaction.

 

Go get 'em!

 

Jonathan

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On 7/8/2018 at 10:38 AM, ol'crickety said:

Still I don't use steel leaders because they cut into my bass catch. 

Maybe this a regional thing?

 

I catch hundreds of bass every year on soft plastic Texas rigged over a wire leader.

 

I also catch bunches of river smallies in musky infested water with poppers and sliders rigged on wire leaders.

 

I've never seen any objective evidence that the leader makes a significant difference, and I would have a very hard time buying it making any difference at all on something like a spinner bait, an inline spinner, etc.

 

My PB smallie as been on leader rigged lures twice, both over 6 lbs. in a very clear lake.  I've already caught three or four around 5 pounds this year on similar rigs.

 

I see you fish western Ontario...so do I...leaders work fine there for smallies on the lakes I've fished.

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There just seems to be so much that effects this stuff.  I've had bass, perch, etc take lures on steel leaders and landed pike and musky on 6lb straight mono and have had finicky trout turn down 3.5lb 5x tippet. 

 

Stuff to consider: active aggressive fish will care s lot less.  Water clarity, dense cover, and low light tend to allow for the use of thicker diameters, high vis braid, or even steel/titanium. Super clear water, very inactive fish, or fish that know you're there will be much spookier and generally require lighter line, extremely natural presentations, and very finesse tactics.  I've seen video of smallmouth in shallow clear water in very early spring turn down ever bass lure imaginable to only take stonefly and caddisfly nymphs presented with a 4wt fly rod and 6x tippet. 

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On 7/18/2018 at 12:31 AM, Turkey sandwich said:

There just seems to be so much that effects this stuff.  I've had bass, perch, etc take lures on steel leaders and landed pike and musky on 6lb straight mono and have had finicky trout turn down 3.5lb 5x tippet.

A-yup.  I hate "it depends" as an answer", but it's a real thing, unless all the criteria are known...and you're familiar with the lake.

 

On 7/18/2018 at 12:31 AM, Turkey sandwich said:

I've seen video of smallmouth in shallow clear water in very early spring turn down ever bass lure imaginable to only take stonefly and caddisfly nymphs presented with a 4wt fly rod and 6x tippet. 

Funny you should mention that...

 

I spent the 4th of July week on Clearwater/Pipestone some years back...and conditions hit me hard.  Temps were 80°+, I'm not sure I saw 10 clouds the whole week, little to no wind...and if all that wasn't enough...I wound up right in the middle of God's own mayfly hatch...to put it in perspective for folks who are not familiar with the phenomena, there are rafts of dead mayflies in the back of bays that are so thick they look like a layer of foam, or pale algae.

 

Few people were catching much of anything, and when they did, they were bloated with mayflies and mayfly emergers.

 

I saw a 30+ inch pike swimming along the surface with it's mouth open skimming mayflies off the surface, which was cool...but geez...the fishing just blew...

 

I had fly rods with me, as I intended to chase smallies with them, but I'd intended to throw poppers, divers and streamers (leaches and crayfish are normally killer up there).

 

About three days in...I'm rummaging through my fly gear looking for something (probably a bottle of Hemlock so I could end it all)...and I find one of my fly boxes that I use back home for trout.

 

It's got 10 or 15 mayfy patterns in it...

 

Oh, baby...

 

I ran up-lake to a shallow bay I'd seen a buncha smallies in a couple days earlier...tied on the biggest mayfly I had on a 6 wt., flicked it out there...

 

I don't think I went five casts all day without catching a smallie.  It worked pretty much everywhere.

 

I caught a half dozen walleyes...on the surface...too.

 

I fished each fly until it was so bedraggled and beat that even extreme applications of flotant couldn't keep it up on top.

 

People cruising by kept stopping to ask me what I was using, my standard reply was, "You don't have any." then I'd show them.

 

The mayfly flies lasted about two days....then I said, "Screw it." and drove home.

 

Still makes me smile...

 

 

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A big mayfly hatch is a crazy thing to experience and either matching the hatch, or small popper/diver patterns can be stellar.  

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you do not need a leader for small mouth. use good line, a good knot and re tie often. Yes you will lose lures to pike. 
 

Fish on their bed are not normally eating the are focused on breeding and protecting the bed. You need to trigger a strike from something they see as a intruder. they probably will not chase anything that is not directly in their bed. 

 

I like a drop shot so you can put it right in the bed and keep it there. you can use a wacky rigged sanko on a drop shot if that is what you like. 

 

The fish will often leave the bed then come back and hit the bait. even if your boat is within a few feet. 

 

If your going to bed fish be very careful with the fish and return them asap. 

 

 

 

 

 

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