Frisch: the little ones in September offer a bite
Smallmouth bass fishing in the fall can be a feast or a famine as the fish often rank very closely now, which means staying on the move to find a school is key to being successful. The rocky bumps adjacent to nearby deep water have been my most productive spots. Add a few weeds to the bump and the spot is usually even better.
Finding productive points often involves a sonar search. The good news is that a hump that contains fish will often be productive year after year. Yet I still start my day rolling around a hump and looking for fishy “marks” on my sonar.
When the fish are located, I take out the drop-shot mounts. A drop shot platform has a hook attached to the line, then a drop shot weight attached to the end of the line about 12 to 18 inches below the hook. Small fineness plastic baits are the usual bait choices.
A drop shot platform can be launched into probable fish holding areas. However, when the fish are deeper, as is often the case in clear water lakes, a more vertical approach is often more productive. In this case, it works to descend just below the trolling motor and transducer and “sit” on the fish marked on the sonar below. Shaking and shaking the bait on a semi-relaxed line is often too hard to ignore, even for a finicky little mouth.
Using a semi-loose line shakes the bait rather than the sinker, which can happen on a tight line. It may take a few minutes for shaking, shaking, and cuddling to get the first bite. Once the school is activated, several other fish can often be caught in a short time.
An animated minnow mimic bait is my favorite for fall bite with Baby Z-Too being my favorite. This flexible little jerkbait floats well and has a deadly ‘shimmy’ that little ones can’t seem to resist. The bait is also very durable, which means you can often grab a fish, unhook it, and come back down to catch another without having to reboot.
The right choice of bait is the key to success, but so is choosing the right rod, reel and line, as drop shot fishing is a finesse approach requiring good feel. . My rod preference is a special Drop-shot Custom Lite rod designed precisely for this technique.
I pair it with a Custom Series reel loaded with an 8 pound fluorocarbon line. The rod is light and sensitive so I can feel the lightest bites and the reel has quality drag to protect the light line when an angry little mouth pulls away from the boat.
Fluorocarbon line like the 8 pound Tour Grade test is my choice for drop shot fishing. This line is strong and it is almost invisible so as not to scare off the timid bass.
If you want to fight strong, relentless fish this season, consider fishing for smallmouth bass this month. As always, good luck on the water and don’t forget to include a youngster on your next outdoor adventure.
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest television series. Visit www.fishingthemidwest.com for more “fishy” stuff.