Jon Navratil (Navigator)
Navigator Guide Service
If given the choice between any number of species of fresh water fish to pursue, I would choose the smallmouth bass. What other fish is as prolific, aggressive and quite frankly fun to catch! Ive had times when a specific presentation was required to catch fish and at other times an empty soup can skipped on the surface would provoke a strike!
My favorite river for smallmouth bass fishing is the Mississippi. Specifically, the Monticello to St. Cloud stretch and the Little Falls to Brainerd stretch. They are shallow and require a small boat or canoe, which limits the amount of fishing pressure. My personal best, a 23 beauty, was caught just up stream of the Little Falls dam while trolling with a spoon plug.
Whether its lakes or rivers, smallmouth bass at this time of the year will provide consistent action. In terms of river fishing, you are usually trying to determine where the fish are: tight to the bank or located mid-stream & shallow or deep. So you really need to utilize methods that help you to quickly eliminate unproductive spots.
Look for fish to relate to areas that contain a rock/gravel/sand mix. This would be true for lakes and rivers. In the case of rivers, also look for shallow areas (1 to 4) in close proximity to deeper holes. Smallmouth, in rivers, are also attracted to visible current breaks such as logs and large rocks, whether they are located mid-stream or along banks. Also, mid-stream shallow sand or gravel bars are productive. The area where the bar drops off are fish magnets, both up stream and down stream from the bar. A difference of a foot or two is all it takes to make a fish holding spot.
A variety of presentations will produce fish, everything from spinner baits to plugs to jigs tipped with plastics. In the case of plugs, you can troll or cast them. I prefer to start with trolling plugs to cover water, which helps me to quickly eliminate unproductive spots. Once Ive found fish I switch to casting plugs and spinner baits and if I am confident there is a school of fish present, I will pitch jigs. Specifically, large tubes are my go-to choice once I have pinpointed the bass. Recently, I have been using a new product on the market, Ring-N tubes by www.catch-n.com They offer a nice variety of plastics with some dynamite color combinations. Other presentations to consider, top water baits such as: buzz baits, poppers, jerk baits and utilizing a fly rod. There is nothing more exciting than the sudden attack of a surface busting smallmouth. With this in mind, the best time to pursue top water action is under low light periods such as dawn, dusk and overcast days.
Smallmouth bass are tops on my list of fish to pursue from June til ice-up.
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