Summer fishing tips: Locating schooling smallmouths

This summer I’ve spent a lot of time fishing for smallmouth – too much time, according to my wife, which means it’s one of those agree-to-disagree things between us. Regardless, the fishing has been really good.

Nearly every rockpile or rocky point has held a fish or two, and we’ve been able to string together some pretty good mornings by jumping from spot to spot. In the last few weeks, however, that pattern has appeared to be dying.

We still fish 10 or 12 spots in a morning, but most of them are devoid of smallmouth. I spent some time on the lake with a family friend’s son who is consumed with bass recently, and Henry and I both felt the sting of fishless spots. We worked several go-to areas without so much as a sniff until I decided it was time to do some searching. I tied on a buzzbait and Henry tied on a swimming jig and we went to work covering water.

Eventually, he tied into a 16-inch smallmouth on a long rock reef that has never yielded a bass for me – ever. After that, we tied on poppers and propbaits and found a school that was up shallow gorging on minnows and, I’m pretty sure, dragonflies. Our dead morning turned into something much livelier and it was a blast.

It also portended things to come as the temperatures start to cool and fall starts to roll in. Those once-reliable homebody bronzebacks will now join up with their like-sized pals and start roaming. They won’t be as easy to find, but when you do locate them, in a matter of a few casts it will result in the kind of action that erases from the memory banks hours of biteless fishing.

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