Sleep late, catch fall smallmouth bass
You don't have to wake up in the dark to enjoy great fishing now
By Bill Lowen
Dec 2, 2011
Nowís the time ó today, this weekend ó for prime smallmouth fishing! For the most part theyíre still shallow and, unlike largemouth, they donít shut down just because a cold front blows through or because the water turns a little chilly.
My best spots, at least until the water temperature drops into the low 40 degree range, are long lake points, rocky areas and laydowns in 3-6 feet of water. The smallmouth moved into those areas at the same time the largemouth moved into the backs of the creeks, and they did it for the same reason ó shad.
The difference is that the smallies stay put a lot longer and remain active well past the point when the largemouths move off towards deep water. That means theyíll chase crankbaits and jerkbaits. Both imitate distressed shad, and both are perfect for triggering reaction bites.
My favorite crankbait is the IMA square bill. It has good action at slow and fast speeds and is about the right size for this time of the year. It's also relatively snag free. Thatís important because if youíre fishing the way you should be, youíll bounce it off rock and wood, or anything else thatís down there.
Sometimes, especially when the waterís cold and they want something moving a little slower, jerkbaits are the thing. My preference is the IMA Flit 120. I like to fish this bait with soft pulls, pauses and twitches.
Youíll have to experiment a little to find what they want, and it can change from day to day or within just a couple of hours. Remember, though, that youíre after actively feeding fish. Keep it moving, but donít be afraid to rest it from time to time.
Regardless of which bait I select, however, I always go with something in a shad finish. IMA has several good ones. Pick the color that most resembles your local shad colors. (When in doubt go with bone.) In the long-run youíll catch more fish with a natural pattern of that type. I do like a little chartreuse on my baits, though. For whatever reason that seems to help catch them.
Another great thing about this time of the year is that you can sleep late and still have great fishing. The December bite is forage driven. That means that as the water warms throughout the day the shad become more active. When that happens the smallies become more active and you catch more bass. Why get up early if youíre not going to catch them before noon anyway?
There is another option, of course, thatís even better than sleeping in. Get up early, bag a deer or knock down a few ducks, and then go fishing. Thatís my idea of a real fun day.
Member Alabigbee Bassmasters