Ontario Fishing Network - Fishing Lodges - Fishing Tackle - Fishing Gear

Ontario Fishing Network

Volume 6,  Issue 10 - Oct.  2006

Deep-Water Jigging for Smallies
By Tim Allard

The fall colours were in full effect, dotting the shoreline on a crisp, October morning. I was fishing for deep-water smallmouth around rocks and boulders in 20-30 feet of water. I jiggled my tube jig along, paused, and then felt a slight tick. I set the hook and the fight began. The three pound smallie bulldogged for a few minutes, but eventually got in net range and was landed. After the hook was popped out, the chunky specimen swam away strongly after being released.

Mike Augot holds a fat, fall smallmouthFall Location
It's no secret that come fall and cool water temperatures, smallmouth move deeper. Often in concentrated numbers, smallies can be found on transition areas close to the main basin. These brozeback bruisers are feeding in preparation for the winter, so look for rock and boulder areas, wood, and sometimes sand on reefs, points and spines. These areas provide a mix of good spots for smallies to corner and ambush baitfish but will also often hold crayfish. Use a hydrographic map or GPS unit to quickly locate these off shore areas. With reliable sonar, you should easily be able to mark smallies as you pass over these spots.

Good Fall Baits
When aggressively feeding, smallies will hammer a lot of baits. An excellent choice for deep-water are jigging spoons. You can cast these baits out or vertical jig them. Either way, rip these baits to rise them off bottom and then let them drop. When smallies are wound up and feeding, the strikes are phenomenal.

For a more subtle approach, consider natural coloured grubs and tube jigs. Work these baits along the lake bottom, crawling them in and around boulders. I prefer a vertical jigging approach as opposed to casting to cover deep water. With the bait directly below me, I rely on my trolling motor to slowly move the boat so I can methodically pick apart the underwater structure. I have found that raising the bait, quivering it, and then pausing before letting it fall to the bottom can be an excellent trigger for reluctant smallmouth when vertical jigging.

Tube jigs are one of the most popular, and productive, deep-water smallmouth baits.Of course, another excellent tactic is dropshotting. Finesse tubes, minnows, or stick baits will all take smallies on a drop shot rig in the fall. Remember that when working these baits, less is more. The key is picking a plastic that will still look lively when you lightly shake the line, without moving the sinker along the bottom. Often, these minute vibrations are hard for fish to ignore.

Line and Snags
If you fishing with monofilament in deep water, you're at a major advantage as you need sensitivity to deep-water jig effectively. You want to use low-stretch line and this is where superbaids reign supreme. I tie a two to three foot leader of fluorocarbon to braid and use a blood knot. With the leader, I can easily break off if I get snagged.

That said, if you're finesse fishing and slowly covering water, you shouldn't snag too often. Key to avoiding snags is not setting the hook when you get hung up. It takes some time to get a feel for it, but after a few hours deep-water jigging you'll learn to discern between strikes versus underwater obstacles. When you do find yourself snagged, try using the "bow and arrow" method. This is done by pulling grabbing the line just above the reel, pulling it out (to bend the rod) and then letting it snap back. The quick snap of the rod tip can often cause baits to pop out of snags.

Sensitive, Balanced Rods and Reels.
For deep-water jigging, I prefer a spinning rod. Critical to feeling deep-water strikes are sensitive rods that are properly balanced with a high quality reel. I like a fast action rod with a sensitive tip. Don't confuse sensitivity with too flexible a tip. These flimsy ends are not meant for sensing light strikes. Yes as much as strikes can be subtle, the fight can be furious and this is where a reel with a quality drag is critical to landing fish.

Catching fat, smallmouth bass on a crisp autumn day is one of my favourite fishing experiences. It can take some time to find smallies on an unfamiliar lake, but once you do the action is often worth the wait. Give this approach a try this fall and get a few more weeks of open water fishing in before the ice season starts.

Live-Bait and Hook-Selection Primer
   by Justin Hoffman

Deep Water Jigging for Smallmouth Bass
Tim Allard

Pike and Muskie - Try Open Water
  by J.P. Bushey

  Column by Sandy Turk

Be Alert - Arrive Alive
  by John Marshe

Announcing MuskieQuest.com NEWSLETTER
Brand new E-Magazine for Muskie Fishing Information

Fishing Lodge Classifieds Come fish your heart out at one of our many Lodges, Camps and Resorts.

Archived Articles
Click here to see articles from past E-Magazines

Ontario Fishing Videos
Ontario Fishing Classifieds
Ontario Fishing Photo's
Ontario Fishing Lodges