Strike Gold on Bronze Backs This Spring

March 26, 2018

Smallmouth Bass FishUSA Roger Hinchcliff

Ask any springtime Great Lakes angler if he or she loves to catch big smallmouth bass? The answer will be a resounding YES! Pound for pound, the smallmouth is a hard-fighting, great biting fish and loves to get air during the fight. The Great Lakes region is home to some of the best smallmouth fishing on planet earth. Folks come from all over the world to catch them every year. Springtime is a busy time of year for many, from the smallmouth and steelhead fishing, mushroom picking, and springtime gobbler hunting.

Many that can find some time will tell you pre-spawn smallmouth bass fishing can be phenomenal. The weather, temperatures, and winds play a huge role in your success. Knowing what to look for will be key. When water temps climb from the 30’s and start reaching the 40’s (usually in late March, early April), the fish will start to move in shallower and be ready to bite. Peak spawning occurs late May to early June and when water temps reach between mid-40’s and 50’s the fish will put on the feed big time before the spawn, giving the bank or wading angler a chance at some quality fishing. No boat is needed here folks and some say the wading or bank angler have it even better than a person with a boat - since they have access to water that a boat cannot get to. Kayakers love this type of fishing, too.

Where to Fish

Great places to fish are harbors, marina docks, piers, islands, boulders, and beaches. My favorites are wind protected bays with sand or rock piles as these will attract the smallies like a magnet. Did I mention this structure usually goes nowhere? So, once these key places are found, you can come back every year and catch them. The baitfish are also attracted to the warmer water and if you find it, you will strike the bronze gold. Typically, if temps are dropping and the wind is blowing hard with the waves into shore or out into the big lake, the fish will move out to deeper water with depths between 10-20 feet and school up. However, when those bays start to warm and calm again, they will be right back in the shallows and will spread out.

Baits to Use

When the temps reach the 50’s pretty much anything will catch fish, but depending on conditions, soft plastics really shine. A tube jig, worm or grub matching a goby, shiner, crawfish or smelt is tough to beat. Try using the darker shades of greens, purples, black, brown, or pumpkin. In very clear water, consider white, pearl, or smoke. I love using all these colors with red or silver flakes as they match the forage base in the Great Lakes. Sometimes when fighting the fish, they will spit up what they are feeding on. Pay attention to this small detail and it can pay big dividends. Color, size, and profile are very important, and my favorite sizes to use are 3-4-inch baits. I generally use a wide variety of lead heads in sizes 1/8 oz. up to 1/2 oz., depending on the fall rate of the bait I want. If the fish have been pressured or conditions call for a more finesse approach, a shaky head with a plastic worm or tube whacks fish, too. If you’re fishing on a day when the fish have moved out deeper, having that heavier jig will allow you to cast out further into the deeper water allowing you a chance at that 5 to 6 pounder. Crankbaits and stickbaits like #10-12 Rapala Husky Jerks and #5-9 Rapala Original Floaters can be deadly on big smallmouth. Also, pay attention to your surroundings and match the hatch. If you see gobies, or schools of alewives, smelt or shiners, that’s what the smallmouth are feeding on. Try to match the presentation to the bait you're seeing and you will not believe the numbers you can put on board in a day. I’ve had many 100-fish days.

Bigger baits do take bigger fish sometimes, so leave nothing on the table here. Swimbaits, spinners, and jigs tipped with shiners should never be overlooked, and lastly, streamers for the fly angler. Yes, I love stripping streamers for these fish and I prefer to do that if I can. Long leaders are not needed here, folks. A five-foot leader will do the job. My favorite all-around bass rod would be a 7-foot spinning rod with medium power, like a Lamiglas XP or Infinity in a 703S series. If you like to fish out of a kayak, try the Lamiglas Paco Kayak model in a 724S. Line choice for me is braid because it has no stretch which I pair with a 6-10lb fluorocarbon leader. Perfect choice to use for these fish.

This time of year produces some big small jaws and 3-5lbers are very common. Don’t miss this fishing opportunity in the spring. It’s truly one of my favorite times of the year, it’s when nature begins a new life. Once smallmouth fever happens to you, it’s over. Vacation time will be planned every year in the early spring to chase these fish.

From the cold winters a new season shall be woken, a bronze back beauty from the shallows of spring, will give an angler a renewed spirit that was once broken.

Related Products

Bonafide SS-127 Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak
Bonafide SS-127 Sit-On-Top Fishing ...
5 Colors available
(1)
The Bonafide SS-127 Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak provides maximum stability and ultimate fishability. It's stable hybrid cat hull design allows the angler to sit or stand while fishing. The kayak is outfitted with many storage options and rod management system. Bonafide has thought of everything that kayak anglers want and implemented it into their incredible kayak design. Function, versatility, performance, comfort, and most importantly - fishability! What more could you ask for? Where do you get ...
$1,599.99
G. Loomis E6X Bass Casting Rod
G. Loomis E6X Bass Casting Rod
19 Models available
G. Loomis E6X Bass Casting Rods are even lighter in weight, thanks to a reduction of up to 5 percent from previous models. The new design offers bass anglers technique specific rods so you can have a great day no matter your preference. The E6X multi-taper blank is made of high-performing materials designed to reduce weight and provides greater strength. G. Loomis E6X Bass Casting Rods feature improved balance and performance to handle any fishing situation. Bass anglers can rely on the G.Loomis...
$189.99 - $249.99
G. Loomis E6X Bass Spinning Rod
G. Loomis E6X Bass Spinning Rod
14 Models available
G. Loomis E6X Bass Spinning Rods are built with a multi-taper blank made of high-performing materials designed to reduce weight and provide greater strength. These E6X rods are even lighter in weight, with a reduction up to 5 percent from previous models. Technique specific models allow you to choose the perfect length, power, and action that you want. Bass anglers can rely on the G. Loomis tradition of providing the some of the best bass rods on the market today!
$189.99 - $199.99
Jackall Cross Tail Shad
Jackall Cross Tail Shad
15 Colors available
The Jackall Cross Tail Shad was designed with a realistic tail that shakes and wiggles to mimic the movement of a baitfish. This bait is constructed with a durable, soft, hand-poured plastic and then covered in salt and a fish-attracting scent. The Cross Tail Shad is extremely effective for drop shot fishing, but works great with other techniques as well.
$4.99
Lamiglas
Lamiglas "The Closer" Walleye Serie...
3 Models available
You'll be floored by the effectiveness of the Lamiglas "The Closer" Walleye Series Spinning Rod when you catch and land more walleye than ever before. Making every effort to make the perfect walleye catcher, Lamiglas designed this rod in conjunction with pro-angler, Roger Hinchcliff, as well as other walleye experts. The extra fast tip of this jigging rod is designed to feel walleye both on top of the jig motion and on the fall, and the blanks and woven graphite handles are designed to have an e...
$259.99
Lamiglas Infinity Bass Spinning Rod
Lamiglas Infinity Bass Spinning Rod
Lamiglas Infinity Bass Spinning Rods feature 3M Powerlux Resins, a revolutionary technology the uses highly concentrated, uniformly dispersed silica nanoparticles. Infinity Bass Rods have graphite composite blanks made with Powerlux resins can achieve incredible strength, durability, and sensitivity, while enabling the lightest weight designs. Combined with the deep pressed titanium guides, Fuji reel seats, and counterbalanced woven graphite handles, the new Infinity series sets a higher standar...
$299.99
Rapala Husky Jerk
Rapala Husky Jerk
24 Colors available
(23)
Rapala Husky Jerks are one of the most affordable and popular suspending jerkbaits on the market. The suspending bodies are neutrally buoyant, giving the lures a hovering appearance in the water column during pauses in the retrieve. These lures are perfectly balanced allowing them to be cast or trolled at any speed while still running straight and true. Husky Jerks are long casting and shallow diving, letting you cover the most water. The variety of colors and finishes are sure to attract walley...
$5.29 - $6.29
Rapala Original Floater
Rapala Original Floater
24 Colors available
(44)
Rapala Original Floaters feature balsa wood construction with a natural minnow profile and premium black nickel VMC treble hooks. Each Rapala lure is hand tuned and tank-tested to ensure world renowned action straight from the box. Rapala Original Floating Lures are still Rapala's best selling lure and the number one "go-to" lure in tackle boxes across the globe.
$6.49 - $10.49
Shimano Stradic CI4+ Spinning Reel
Shimano Stradic CI4+ Spinning Reel
4 Models available
(22)
What isn't there to love about the Shimano Stradic CI4+ Spinning Reel? Everything about the Stradic CI4+ screams performance and power. This spinning reel is one of the toughest and smoothest lightweight reels on the market today. Thanks to the patented HAGANE gear and HAGANE body, this reel handles more torque and provides more power and durability than most reels. The CI4+ carbon fiber reinforced graphite material is over one and a half times stronger than Shimano's normal XT-7 graphite and is...
$229.99 - $239.99
Comments