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Ontario Fishing Network

Volume 9,  Issue 9- Sept 2009  #105

Bass Pro Shops

When Smallies Go Cray-Zee
By Rob Romberg

Scrappiest Pound For Pound
Smallmouth bass are considered by many to be near if not atop the pound for pound list of scrappiest freshwater fish. Anyone whoís battled a big smallie knows what Iím talking about and for those who havenít I suggest you get out there and give it a try. There are plenty of smallmouth producing waters across the province, many with large numbers of big fish. Smallies for the most part are a territorial fish, ambushing food that trespasses in their domain. Small fish, leeches, insects and crayfish along with the odd frog make up their diet. Fish can be taken shallow in the spring and early summer and can very in the water column till fall when they move out into deeper water.

Fish Like The Pros
Crank baits, spoons and spinners all work for smallmouth, but catching larger fish consistently calls for a little more. Weíve all seen the pros on TV throwing jigs with all sorts of additions dangling off them under docks and around wood and pulling big fish into the boat. They do this because it works. They had a good idea of where the fish would be and presented a bait the fish couldnít resist. Knowing which bait to throw is what will make the difference between an ok day and a great one. During the summer months there is one bait that is a reliable producer, the crayfish. The smallmouth has evolved over the eons into an aggressive hunter and the crayfish is one of its most sought after prey. During certain times of the summer larger fish will dine exclusively on the little shellfish. Live crayfish would obviously work well but may not always be available. There are several soft plastic baits on the market today that work very well. They are very life like and many have scents impregnated into the bait. Texas rigging or just hooking the bait through the tail will catch fish. Crayfish swim backward so you want to hook the bait so it swims in the right direction.

Soft Plastic Baits Rule
For the soft plastic baits (my favourite is Yums 3.25 inch green pumpkin crawbug), I like to put a small split shot about a foot or so in front of the hook and fish it along the bottom. When retrieved in a stop and go jigging motion, the bait will pause at the top of the jig before the shot pulls it back down. That little pause often results in a strike. It is important to have a good hook set, even more so when Texas rigged. Broken rock bottoms, areas with lots of wood or lily pad patches are all hot spots to work over. Try not to rush in and spook the fish, start out where you think the fish are not and work your way into your target.

Seeing Is Believing
It is imperative that you wear polarized glasses when smallmouth fishing. You will often see the fish before you cast. Try to cast a few feet in front of them so you donít spook the wary bass. Keep your eyes open on the retrieve as well as they will follow your bait. When you see a follower stop and let the bait fall, this will often trigger a strike. A big smallmouth is a treasure that should be cherished. Taking care when handling these fish and releasing them in a timely fashion will ensure the future generations can have the same fun you experienced

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