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DDbasser

I need help with Smallmouth!!!!!!!

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I have several questions for those of you that catch smallies on a regular basis.

How do you go about locating them?

The lake i'm fishing on is fairly clear with tons of rocks and lots of standing and fallen timber, the lake is about 20 years old and has 3 main creek channels running through it with several feeder creeks coming into the main creek channels.

The average depth of the lake is 32 feet and ranges from 1 foot in places to 90+ feet in places.

There are several main lake points that drop off into creek channels and the creek channels have lots of bends in them.

I catch a few smallies here and there, but the lake has a real good population of 4-6 pound smallmouth I just can't seem to catch anything over 2 pounds.

I've thrown jerkbaits(rouge's, LC pointers, and husky jerks), spinnerbaits and all sorts of plastics rigged every way you could imagine, crankbaits and jigs.

Right now, the water is slightly stained visibility is about 3 feet, and the surface temp is 46-49 degree's.

Please teach me!!!!!!!!        

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Smallmouth relate to bluffs a lot mainly because of the changing weather make the smallmouth move vertically. They do the same thing with standing timber. #1 bait is a Bomber crawfish pattern this time of the year if your jigging the trees make sure the jig falls slow and straight close to the tree.. if your using a jigging spoon or tube on a jighead make sure that you suspend it above their head. Rocks hit the rocks that get a lot of sun even if the air temp is cold or docks.

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Well, the main lake points is where I would focus my efforts. Live minnows on a split shot rig would be my #1 choice of baits, but if you are set on artificials, here are a couple of other suggestions:

3 1/2" Gitzit, traditional rig (inserted jig head). If you get hung up too much, T-rigged weedless with a bead, weight unpegged. My most successful color has always been baby diaper yellow (Mizmo calls this color squash green or Kent's Classic). On this same set up you might also try GYCB Single Tail Grubs and Hula Grubs.

It may be too early for lizards, but give them a try either on a split shot rig or C-rigged.

I haven't had success with vertically fishing hair jigs or spoons, but other guys do.

Line diameter is very important when you are fishing for smallmouth. I recommend #4 Yo-Zuri Hybrid Ultra Soft, but whatever you choose, the diameter should be no greater than standard 8 lb test line and I think 4 or 6 is better. Trust me, it makes a difference.

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If your lake is very rocky finding sand is more important. And then finding rock and weed on that flat. Look at your shoreline Pines are rock, Birch trees are sand. If you can find sand and scattered rock near your main lake dropoff with a little scattered weed things will start happening. Also fish the areas exposed to your normal wind direction mines is the westside of any point or a bay facing west smallys love being in the middle of the bay on top of the main lake dropoff around scttered rock and weed. Don't forget current.

Garnet

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Those are some great suggestions.  I'd be on those main lake and secondary points, especially those that intersect a channel too.  Smallmouth usually will relate to rock and gravel over timber and grass, especially in prespawn, although 46 degree water would still be called winter in my book.  The good news is they should be pretty schooled up.  I'd try a dropshot on 6# flourocarbon, a jigging spoon, or dragging a jig and pig after I found some rock off a point on the finder.  Also, once that water gets into the mid 50's, the smallmouth will be the first to start to move up.  I'd start looking on the flats close to deep water with jerkbaits and lipless cranks.

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Fish all of the above locations.  I have my best luck using either a Silver Buddy or a Tail Spinner when they are still in Winter pattern.  Cast either bait, let sink to the bottom.  With the Silver Buddy, snap it off the bottom about 3 feet and let it fall back on a semi-slack line.  Using the Tail Spinner, snap it off the bottom and slow roll it back to the boat.  Both of these baits get hung up some using this method but most of the time if you position your boat directly over the bait and jiggle it most of the time it will come loose.  I caught my PB, 6 1/2 lb, using this method with a Silver Buddy.

Kelley

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Correct me if I am wrong on this, but Smallies, you will find schooling together.  So you can hit all those spots that have been mentioned, troll around with your fish finder/gps on and look for bunched up hump marks on your graph and mark the points on your gps.   Then try the drop shot like Upnorth said.  Sounds like you should have a good opportunity to pull up a 6lbr.

Squid

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Squid,

Smallmouth are generally schooling fish and I have heard stories of multiple big fish being caught on isolated humps and current breaks, but that has never happen to me. When I have found one of these spots the action has been awesome, but the smallmouth have always been 2-3 lbs. Nice fish and lots of fun, but they are always exactly the same size or year class. Big smallmouth, at least every one I have ever caught, have been isolated. That is not to say that several big bass will not occupy the same area, and they might even be relating to the same general structure, but I have never found them schooled up.

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Guest avid

I always found a great search bait for smallies was a ball head jig with a dark twist tail grub.  This is an inexpensive lure that smallies will jump all over.  You can throw it anywhere.  I used to fish alot for smallmouth in conditions very much like the ones you described.  I would throw the jig right up on the rocks and let it bounce down.  You loose lures that way, hence the cost factor.  Then when I figured out what depth they were holding at I would put on the more costly "fun" stuff.  Craw colored cranks etc.  I really miss those crisp cold days when I hunt for smallies.  Florida is great but it does have it's limitations

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Squid,

Smallmouth are generally schooling fish and I have heard stories of multiple big fish being caught on isolated humps and current breaks, but that has never happen to me. When I have found one of these spots the action has been awesome, but the smallmouth have always been 2-3 lbs. Nice fish and lots of fun, but they are always exactly the same size or year class. Big smallmouth, at least every one I have ever caught, have been isolated. That is not to say that several big bass will not occupy the same area, and they might even be relating to the same general structure, but I have never found them schooled up.

 

Thanks, I was wondering about the bigger ones, if they weren't loners.  I have heard people talk about schools of big ones in Erie, like 3-4lbrs, but that is the biggest size I have heard about in schools.

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In the interest of brevity, I'll just skim the surface of "Location", the most important facet:

Rock bluffs and hard major points are classic smallmouth structures, but unfortunately

they are "Emergent Structures" that every smallmouth hopeful can see with one eye closed.

My favorite approach by far is finding structures that no one can see from their boat.

Spread your best hydrographic chart on your dining room table and pour yourself a tanqueray martini.

You'll be looking for what I've personally dubbed "Compression Points". I call them compression points

because they pinpoint the spots on a particular structure, where the depthlines converge most tightly.

In brief, a compression point marks the spot where you find the "steepest" drop-off into "deepest" water.

The key is knowing which depthlines should comprise the compression points (2,4,6 or 10,15,20, etcetera)

The depth lines to employ depends on the Lake Class (hillland, highland, flatland, natural, canyon, et al)

and the Seasonal Period. The seasonal period refers to the fish's calendar, not our Gregorian calendar.

For starters, the home search might include the following (for smallmouth not largemouth)

1. Compression points on a Diagonal Rock Bank

Drop-offs found on a hard slope, commonly called "stairsteps", are not plundered by casual fishermen.

2. Compression points along the River or Creek Channel that adjoin a broad flat (Pure Dynamite!)

3. Compression points in the vicinity of obvious Rock Bluffs and Major Points but away from shore

If for example an underwater point is L-shaped, the compression point may be 3/4 mile away

from the obvious, heavily pounded structure.

4. The sharpest, deepest drop-off (compression point) on a Submergent Ridge

(These are variously referred to as sunken islands, ridges, mound and humps, take your pick.)

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Do you guys think you could do about five or six more pages of detailed information like this?  For a newcomer to Michigan and serious Smallmouth fishing this is the best info I have seen.  Like I said, the detail is awesome but where in the southeast part of the state will I find this type of structure.  I have heard about St Clair and Erie and have already been promised trips to both but would also like info on smaller bodies.

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Whether you're dealing with a large or small lake, the information remains the same.

Large lakes as it were, are like many small lakes rolled into one location.

So, if you're fishing in a small bay in Lake Superior, that bay becomes your whole lake.

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Thanks for the response RoLo.  Let me clarify.  I am moving from Western Oklahoma where there are many 100 to 300 acre lakes that are perfectly suited for my 10' two man boat.  Even the smallest cove in Lake Superior would more than I wouild like to safely attempt in such a small boat with electric motor only.  I know this will seriously limit the water that I can access (many larger Oklahoma lakes have a 12' minimum length) but such is my lot in life.  The small lakes that I have fished here offer world class action with a typical year of fishing (12 full months) resulting in as many as 1000 fish with 50% in the 4 pound plus range.  Hopefully the prime waters of my new home land will be as good.

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Not.

But good luck anyhow. I hope you catch a couple of 4 lb smallmouth.

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I actually catch about 75% of my fish, largies, smallies, walleyes, watever on some sort of edge. Weeds meet sand, verticle structure meets flat structure, deep structure meets shallow structure, rocks meet sand, and sometimes, i found smallies group where sun meets shade. This seems to apply to most fish, except LITTLE pike, which i accidently catch everywhere, a lot of times when im goofing off. If im catching a lot of little pike, i usually move because i will only catch a few tiny bass if any in that area. However, when i catch a big pike, i can find big bass in that area. Say what you want, it's just my experiences.

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DD your lake sounds a lot like the lakes I fish in Minn.  On the points I fish I throw jerks and 3/8 oz. spinnerbaits in the 5-10 ft. range.  In the 8-15 ft. area of the point I throw cranks and 1/2 oz. spinners.  Deeper than that I'll throw cranks, car. rigged tubes and 3/4 oz. spinners.  With water as cold as you're fishing you may have to slow down especially with the jerks, pauses of up to a minute.  I use dark(browns, blacks, reds, etc.) spinnerbaits--the body,skirt and blades in the clear waters I fish.  

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Thanks for the reply's!!!!

I'll have to give some of your suggestions a shot this weekend!!

We've been fishing an afternoon jackpot on Saturdays from 1-4pm on this lake, it's been taking a 4 1/2# smallmouth or better to get in the money, with a good largemouth every now and then (last Saturday a 5.8 largemouth took 1st but 2nd through 4th were smallmouth from 4.2 to 5.0#'s.

I know a couple of the guys that are catching the better smallies, in fact they have placed in the money twice 1st once and 3rd once, and both times we were fishing the same bank on similar structure using the same jerkbaits.

I'm starting to get a little frustrated with the smallie's. But I ain't givin up!!!!

Please keep the info flowing!!!!!!

GeeDavid,

Where you located in Western Ok???

I get out around Canton and Black Kettle a few times every year.

But I live in Catoosa just east of Tulsa.  

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DDbasser,

For another 4 weeks I live in Yukon then relocating to Michigan.  If you are going to Canton there are several lakes that are closer and several more that are just a little furthre.  

The closer ones are:

Kingfisher - Awesome 60 acre lake,  May of 05 37 fish with 28 over 4 lbs. State fisheries lake.

Watonga - In Romanose State Park.  Huge bass, Stocked with trout each fall, when water hits 65 the trout get sluggish and the bass start feeding.

American Horse - Tons of small fish, great lake to get confidence back after a hard day, Vertical jig

Crowder Lake, Vanderwork, Burtschi and Rocky are a little further but are all good stuff.  Don't forget about Mountain Lake down by Ardmore.  Largemouth, Smallmouth and Kentucky all in the same lake and there are some hogs in it as well.

If you haven't seen it yet, here is a link to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board Water Atlas (I wish Michigan had one of these) http://www.owrb.state.ok.us/news/publications/wa/wa.php

By the way, Have you ever fished W.R. Holway or I think it is also called Pump Back?  It is close to Lake Hudson.  I had never heard of it until the state record Smallmouth was caught there last year.  I am hoping to make a trip up there before I move but it's not looking good at this point.

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geedavid,

Good luck in Michigan!!!!

The pumpback is pretty empty right now, they drew it down to do some work on it, not sure exactly what they did though!!

We go to Canton to fish for walleyes and to deer and turkey hunt , I have too much good bass water around here to travel very far to bass fish.

Unless it's for a tourny.

I have'nt fished the pumpback in years!! you can't even unload a boat that has a gas engine on the lake, electric only. And there's not much access from the bank unless they have made some in the last few years.

Skiatook lake is the one I've been asking all the questions about, it has a great smallmouth fishery and there's some speculation that the next state record could come from there.

After talking to my fishing buddy, I think we are making one real major mistake when we are trying to catch the smallmouth, I think we are sitting the boat right on top of where we should be fishing, in 20 feet of water will that spook the smallies? Do I need to back off and make longer cast's? we've been fishing pretty much straight down with our jigs. Trying to keep the structure i'm fishing on the sonar.

Do I need to drop a bouy on the structure then back off and fish it?

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geedavid, I lived in SW and SE Michigan for many years and you are not going to find many if any smallmouth lakes safe and suitable for your 10' boat. You will have to pretty much resign yourself to river fishing or go after those largemouths.

Going north and in my experience west you can find smaller lakes with smallies. Several years ago my wife had a seminar to attend at Crystal Mountain near Beulah. I took my boat along and had some great fishing while she was learning. Lots of small and large lakes in the area.

I have also had a few trips to the Hale area north and east of Bay City with some decent fishing for large and small mouths. Also lots of small lakes in the area.

Neither of these areas are very practical for one day trips from SE Michigan.

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NBR, I am starting to see that you are right.  The river thing sounds interesting though.  Don't get me wrong, I do love to catch the big green girls but the few <3lb smallmouths that I have caught in Okla. have me wanting more.  Bigger too!

I think my biggest adjustment will be waiting till June to fish.  I have already been out 3 times this year in Okla.

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