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Predawn Smallmouth


zelmo

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I am a morning guy which is part of my fishing strategy.  I like to be on the water before first light.   If conditions dictate I will just idle to a safe spot and fish until there’s enough light to get on plane.  
 

At some of those “safe” spots I drop the anchor to avoid damaging the TM on the rocks.  Those rocks inevitably produce snags so I often throw something inexpensive like a tube or swimbait.  If there isn’t grass floating in the current I will try topwater.  
 

These tactics don’t produce many bites which has me wondering if that is because the smallmouth aren’t active that early or they aren’t seeing my offerings.  I really don’t want to be losing more expensive spinnerbaits or chatterbaits before I can safely retrieve hang ups. 
 

Any suggestions on the best baits to use?   How does cloud cover and moon brightness come into play?

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What are your color choices. Color can matter in diff light conditions. Me personally, i’d still throw a spinnerbait. I feel confident i can work through and around cover. 

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  • Super User

Chatterbaits are outstanding in the dark, and they crawl through rock like nothing else I've ever fished. I rarely lose them. A green pumpkin or black and blue CB would be my suggestion.

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Topwater, I would go to a weightless tex. fluke/ sluggo or even a buzzbait if the floating weeds are there.

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Thanks for the responses.  I now have plenty of things to try.  
 

Something nobody mentioned is how active they are at first light.  Are they actively looking for food or do you need to bounce it off their nose?

 

As for colors I usually have a dark and a light color tube and swimbait tied on and ready to go.  Which should work better in dark conditions vs the times when it is pretty bright for nighttime?  When it is pitch dark do you need to use a bait that produces sound/vibration?

 

 I was going to make a comment about floating grass affecting topwater come July, but I was out today and it has already started.  I need to find something that works in it better than Sammys and Whopper Ploppers.  I have never caught a fish on a buzzbait so I don’t think about using them.  I need to work on that.  

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2 days ago i took a 1/4 oz ball head jig i was using for walleye then took a 5 in berkly general stick bait, pinched 2 inches off it, put it on the jig using it as a ned rig and first cast in the river i caught a nice smallie and 2nd cast caught another smallie.

1924131078_ned022.thumb.jpg.3abb25198a068c3d1542402fc0aa671c.jpg1106219069_ned004.thumb.jpg.9d71a4f2e33f0fc2a7354701d842a85c.jpg

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On 6/4/2022 at 7:12 PM, A-Jay said:

Another vote for early morning topwater ~

 

:smiley:

A-Jay

A-Jay, I just found your thread on night fishing on the General board.  There is a lot in there that can apply to the questions I have been asking.  I wish I had found it before starting this topic.

 

In the first post of that thread you said "There seems to be 90 minutes or so after actual sunset where the bite is pretty slow."  Is there anything like that before first light?

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7 minutes ago, zelmo said:

A-Jay, I just found your thread on night fishing on the General board.  There is a lot in there that can apply to the questions I have been asking.  I wish I had found it before starting this topic.

 

In the first post of that thread you said "There seems to be 90 minutes or so after actual sunset where the bite is pretty slow."  Is there anything like that before first light?

Not so much in the places I fish.

I have caught some very respectable brown bass during the first light of the day as well as right at sunrise. 

Love getting to the lake under the cover of darkness so I can be on "my spot" right at first light.

Especially in the late summer & early fall.

:smiley:

A-Jay 

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50 minutes ago, A-Jay said:

Love getting to the lake under the cover of darkness so I can be on "my spot" right at first light.

Especially in the late summer & early fall.

:smiley:

A-Jay 

Exactly!  My situation is compounded by the ramp I often use.  It can be a zoo and the parking lot is horrible.  Being the first boat out lets me beach the boat while I park (I fish alone) and get a good parking spot.

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55 minutes ago, zelmo said:

Exactly!  My situation is compounded by the ramp I often use.  It can be a zoo and the parking lot is horrible.  Being the first boat out lets me beach the boat while I park (I fish alone) and get a good parking spot.

Me too ~

And 'zoo' can be a relative term,

but either way, most trips my rig is the only rig in the parking lot when I leave.

However upon my return, there are ZERO spaces left - regardless of the lot size.

Especially after like noon time.

I have ramps I use that are some driving distance from a major road way,

which get less use, I like that.

Also being on the water at first light and off by 10 AM, usually keeps me ahead of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Baily and most all of the circus.

More importantly, I get the best part of the fishing day all to myself.

Of course, fishing at night here is like being on a different planet.

#nooneelseever

:smiley:

A-Jay

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56 minutes ago, A-Jay said:

Me too ~

And 'zoo' can be a relative term,

but either way, most trips my rig is the only rig in the parking lot when I leave.

However upon my return, there are ZERO spaces left - regardless of the lot size.

Especially after like noon time.

 

:smiley:

A-Jay

Our strategy has another potential problem.  One lot that I use is like a big rectangle.  You enter in the middle of one of the long sides and parking is at either end.  It too fills up.

 

I got there once and was the first boat out.  I chose a spot to park where I thought I had little chance of damage.  Upon my return it was no surprise that the lot was full.  The problem was that some JA decided he was just going to park his rig in the center of the lot.  He blocked in about 6 other rigs.  Luckily I was able to squeeze by and get out.  One space over and I would have been stuck.  I am glad I didn't have to risk seeing my temper kick in.

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On 6/5/2022 at 12:50 PM, zelmo said:

Thanks for the responses.  I now have plenty of things to try.  
 

Something nobody mentioned is how active they are at first light.  Are they actively looking for food or do you need to bounce it off their nose?

 

 

 

Both my personal best smallie in Michigan (profile pic) and my biggest local smallie were both caught right at daylight when you were just able to start seeing.  Michigan fish was caught on a tube and my local smallie was caught on a swimbait.  If I have the chance, I'll be there before daylight.  

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Back in the day when Doug “Skinny” Harris was tying my hair jigs he put me in touch with a trophy Smallmouth angler from Tennessee who was catching giant Smallies at night.

Harris tied my hair jig colors on a single spin Colorado blade spinnerbait ( Fritz; brown-chartreuse- red) with #32 UJ brown crawdad trailer. Targeting stumps on breaks in 8’ of water he was catching several 7 to 8 lb Smallies. Never took up the invite.

So, yes big Smallmouth bite in low light.

Tom

 

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My vote is topwater. And they will eat a full size rat too. Caught a 14" smallie last weekend on a full size rat right at daylight. Also like the full  sized pampadour  too. 

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On 6/5/2022 at 12:50 PM, zelmo said:

Thanks for the responses.  I now have plenty of things to try.  
 

Something nobody mentioned is how active they are at first light.  Are they actively looking for food or do you need to bounce it off their nose?

 

As for colors I usually have a dark and a light color tube and swimbait tied on and ready to go.  Which should work better in dark conditions vs the times when it is pretty bright for nighttime?  When it is pitch dark do you need to use a bait that produces sound/vibration?

 

 I was going to make a comment about floating grass affecting topwater come July, but I was out today and it has already started.  I need to find something that works in it better than Sammys and Whopper Ploppers.  I have never caught a fish on a buzzbait so I don’t think about using them.  I need to work on that.  

I have had luck on a texas rigged toad buzzed on top in place of a sammy or spook. Also, senkos or flukes could be good. Or flipping with a weedless jig.

 

as far as bite in the dark. I personally have never had luuck on smallies, but i only ever fish in the dark after nightfall so im not the best person for this.

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