When most anglers think of fishing for smallmouth bass they think spinning rods, lighter lines and finesse like tactics for finicky brown bass. Some, favour topwater baits, jerk baits, spinnerbaits and even tube jigs to fool the smallmouth of their dreams.
But, let me share with you another option that few implore, and that is chasing down bigger than average Ontario smallmouth bass with medium heavy casting rods, casting reels spooled up with 17 pound fluorocarbon lines and toned down 1/4 to 3/8 ounce football finesse jigs tipped with small Rage Tail Craw or Jr Chunks by Strike King.
Those once finicky, sometimes hard to provoke-to-bite smallmouth can be provoked into striking the football finesse jigs on a regular basis all season long as long as you present the bait in select locations that offer the fish an ambush opportunity to eat and alter your cadence or retrieve to match the mood of the fish, of which I must add, can change from hour to hour.
One of my favourite aspects of Northern Ontario smallmouth bass is they can adapt in all kinds of conditions and water temperatures based on the body of water they inhabit, weather is be a lake, river or reservoir. This presentation is best when there are locations with fairly shallow water depths in the three to twelve foot range and adequate structure or cover present such as cabbage or milfoil weed, submerged timber, rock piles and sand flats with any of the pre-mentioned natural cover present.
These locations sound like largemouth bass spots, but in Northern Ontario, Mr. smallmouth can and do inhabit the exact same locations on a regular basis, hence the need for the stronger line choice especially when you hook into one of those 4 to 6 pound smallies Ontario is known for in the heavier cover.
I would normally begin my search for these brown bass in the deeper edges of the locations and probe the thickest part of any weedbed that offers sharp turns or depressions in the weed, or any open holes in the weeds signalling a potential change in bottom composition like sand, gravel or rock, all excellent smallmouth bass magnets.
Making shorter pitches to the high potential locations, I will le the bait fall on a semi slack line and let the bait settle on bottom and shake the bait ever so slightly before making short, sharp upward lifts of my rod tip to potentially trigger a bite. If no bite occurs, I keep moving throughout the weedbed while gradually inching closer to the shallower depths. Calm conditions can sometimes position bass on the outer edges or the thicker weeds, but if the water has a slight chop to it, these bigger brown bass can be as shallow as shallow gets as long as this cover is present.
Don't be afraid to probe the shallow inside edges of the weedbeds, submerged timber or rock piles. Some of my bigger smallmouth have come from those 3 to 5 foot depths with multiple fish feeding in the exact same location.
The football finesse jig and soft plastic trailer option is just another weapon to add to your arsenal of bass tactics that can produce more and bigger Ontario smallmouth bass when the light line techniques are not getting it done.
Fish smart, fish safe.