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Baits for suspended smallies in a reservoir?


wasabi_VA

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I'm fishing a small reservoir that has a long, windy feeder river. The smallies go back up the river in warmer weather but I believe many of them winter over in the deeper water of the main reservoir. I suspect they are feeding on suspended balls of shad and I'd like to target them while we're still in this winter pattern. Any particular lures you suggest? I only have downscan and no side scan so I am going to find them under the kayak and drop down, either targeting suspended or bottom fish. I mostly throw 3" curly tail grubs to them in summer.

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  • Super User

If you have good visibility (water clarity) & they aren't too deep a jerk bait could work well. If they are deeper then try a blade bait or jigging spoon or lipless crank like a Duo Realis G-Fix. If the smallies act lethargic you might try a float-n-fly presentation. 

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24 minutes ago, Dwight Hottle said:

If you have good visibility (water clarity) & they aren't too deep a jerk bait could work well. If they are deeper then try a blade bait or jigging spoon or lipless crank like a Duo Realis G-Fix. If the smallies act lethargic you might try a float-n-fly presentation. 

 

You didn't mention the depth but since it's a reservoir I'd suspect it is deep.  I'd go with Dwight's suggestion and add a tail spinner but a blade bait would be my first choice.

 

Since you don't have side scan I'd mark the bait balls with buoy move off a little and fish below them with the blade bait. 

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I have a few Damiki Vault baits and a few Silver Buddies. I also have a few Chinese copies of the Damiki baits that work well.  Most of mine are 3/8 oz and I have one or two 1/2 oz. All of mine are in some kind of natural bait fish color except for a few "fire tiger". I also have the Little George tail spinner. Another good bait for deep or suspended fish.

 

Another type I just thought of is the jigging raps from Rapala and Moonshine.

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AlabamaSpotHunter is targeting fish in the exact scenarios you are describing, and he is teaching us all a lesson! He's even sent me to the bait monkey for another round! My Damiki's are due this week!

The blade baits get down to the fish quickly and resemble the basses main target.....baitfish!

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5 minutes ago, Blue Raider Bob said:

Ck out AlabamaSpotHunters videos on fishing blade baits. He is targeting fish in the exact scenarios you are describing, and he is teaching us all a lesson! He's even sent me to the bait monkey for another round! My Damiki's are due this week!

The blade baits get down to the fish quickly and resemble the basses main target.....baitfish!

Thanks Bob!   

 

Agree on the Damaki Axe Blade and Vault.   

 

OP's scenario sounds perfect for those baits.    Find that bait, make sure you got fish actively feeding on it, and then just count that sucker down to them and bring it in on a slow steady retrieve with the occasional rod pop for followers.   

 

I vertically jigged it 4 days ago and caught a cpl as well, but I think casting it out was far more effective.  

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No luck today. I went down lake and found some pods of suspended baitfish but didn't mark any fish hanging around them. I still jigged a blade bait but no takers. Ended up marking crappie in spots and got distracted wearing them out. Odd I didn't see any fish arches near those bait pods.

 

 

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First off, my experience here comes right before hard water

but after the fish have relocated to wherever they will be spending the winter. 

Catching suspended fish, can be a real hit or miss proposition.

Especially for cold water brown bass. 

After having little success at what you've tried so far, I'd be making a change.

I'd forget the suspended bait all together.

IME smaillies don't waste a ton of energy chasing suspended bait all over the lake,

especially in cold water. But instead spend far more time stationary just chilling out.

They go & feed when it's time, and then it's back to a mostly neutral posture. 

For me that means Time to Focus on my mapping and bottom contours.

To start, I'm not looking "for bass".

Instead, my efforts would be focused on areas & structure that can hold bass.

And I expect them to be Right ON the bottom.

Deeper areas with a steep / sharp point close by could work.

A deeper Saddle areas between two shallower humps can produce.

Cover or wood in or near a deep hole can be gold and hold a lot of smallies.

These fish are way easier to find and when I do, and I get a bait in front of them,

they are usually willing to cooperate.

Small swimbaits & blade baits do most of the heavy lifting for me.

Good Luck

:smiley:

A-Jay

 

 

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Suspended smallmouth are a difficult target, and seemingly on the move a lot.  I've never really spent a ton of time trying to catch them, because it was so difficult.

 

The one time I did get into them was with a jerk bait as @Dwight Hottle recommended.  And boy did I get into them.  It was like every other cast for a good hour, all sizable fish too.

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i got into them a few years ago at about 40 feet at lake Berryessa.  the trick was a dropshot with the 3" Hazadong shad by Megabass.    the hit would come when i lifted the rig up after casting it away from me a bit. 

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On 2/8/2023 at 6:40 AM, Blue Raider Bob said:

My Damiki's are due this week!!

 Received mine yesterday.

 

https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Damiki_Axe_Blade_Tail_Spinners/descpage-DAXB.html

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22 hours ago, roadwarrior said:

Still waiting on mine but Saturday, at the wingwall at Nickajack dam, I was using an old Cotton Cordell blade bait when I hooked this huge Smallmouth Buffalo. This is just after I hooked a river monster on another Blade bait but broke off. I was having to use my trolling motor to stay in slack water away from generators when the monster swam my line into trolling motor blades. There was nothing I could do about it. I never saw the fish.

     Couldn't get a weight on the Buffalo because it was so heavy, the lip grips wouldn't hold it. It must of been 15 to twenty pounds. An "Epic" battle on spinning gear! It crushed the cheap hooks on the Cordell bait and that was my last blade bait. Ned rig caught four bass but it was a slow, windy, cold, rainy, miserable day. Cain't wait to go again!

IMG_2221 Resize.JPG

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