Catching smallmouth bass – when they’re looking down
Much of my summertime fishing consists of casting topwaters for smallmouth. There are few things I love more, but here’s the rub: Bronzebacks aren’t always eager to attack what they believe to be a struggling minnow or frog on the surface. This is no more evident than when the sun gets high in the sky, the temperatures start to peak, and the feeding activity of most game fish wanes to its lowest point in the day.
The bronzers that go tight-lipped then, or at least won’t attack a surface plug, are still catchable. You’ve just got to re-think how they can be fooled into eating. This is where easy meals dropped right in front of their faces matter the most, especially if those meals mimic crayfish.
Smallmouth love crayfish, and when the topwater bite collapses on you, it’s often best to re-fish the rock piles and reefs with a tube jig or something else that looks like a crayfish. Not only is this is a good way to pick up a few extra fish during the lull of the day, but it’s also a fantastic way to catch a big one.
It’s a rare day that a 20-inch fish will look the other way when a crayfish crawls past, or hops up out of the rocks and settles back to the lake floor. They can’t take it, and although they wouldn’t think about swimming up through the water column to wallop a topwater, they’ll chase that pseudo-crayfish down and eagerly chomp it.
Consider this if you find yourself locked into the idea that you’ve got to offer them a type of presentation that you want to fish, but it isn’t producing the results you expect. Sometimes, just like with trout, the smallmouth aren’t looking up to eat – they are looking down. And even when they are in a neutral mood, they’ll move to eat a crayfish. Give them that opportunity and you can extend your productive fishing hours when other tactics just won’t produce.