The Perfect Storm of Smallmouth Fishing
When I say this, the title of this article it’s not to be a disaster type storm, it’s like a mild temperature with a dark light rain with slow winds. When this hits your area of good smallmouth waters where you live, and you’re a fanatic Ol’ Brown Fish angler as I am, you can’t even sleep hardly all night with the anticipation of what waits for you when the boat is launched and head out for those honey holes that hold those rod breakers, well I wasn’t disappointed on Nov. 3rd, let me tell you the big bite was on. With one of my fishing buddies, Zach Edge and I boated seven smallmouth bass in two hours of fishing. With two of the smallmouth weighing about 4lbs and the rest were much larger. Three of the bronze backs went 20 inches long another was 21 inches and the other was 21 ½ inches long. In the world of smallmouth angling we’re talking 3 to 5 lbs and two nearly six to six and half pounds.
Let me tell you that’s a mess of browns. What had happen was when TVA was running four turbines this created a very strong current for the smallmouth to start a feeding frenzy, but it wasn’t long till they cut the turbines off and so went the bite as well. Keep this in mind, although the weather conditions was ideal for the smallmouth to feed aggressively when this happens the Tennessee river below our dams Chickamauga, Watts Bar, Nick-A-Jack, or any others you have, you might as well throw in the towel and head for the barn, and wait on the good weather conditions to change again, and really hope the dams are running good water. If you can get all these conditions working in your favor, then you have the “Perfect Storm for Smallmouth Fishing.”
Let me ad, when this front passes or any other, wait at least 2 to 3 days and fish behind it and look for the next dark rainy day and then head for the big brown fish waters. The Bojole Flutter Spoon and the Secret Weapon Spinner Bait was the main reason for us catching these smallmouth. Sometimes as the water terrain changes you can try switching back and forth between these two lures to catch some outstanding fish. Watch for the rock banks and deep to mid river formations, the smallmouth will tell you which one will work, just as I’ve said many times, “fishing is a science, it’s not easy, you have to work for it.” It may take you a few years but it will fall into place for you and be much easier, timing is the perfection to all wildlife, it takes time and commitment. I guarantee you once you’ve had a big smallmouth on, I don’t need to say anymore.
Benny Hull – The Ol’ Stump Bumper saying “Make a girl or boy happy and take them huntin or fishin, and remember let’s all fight against water pollution.”
P.S. In 1988 I had these conditions that lasted all day, with a fishing buddy of mine Noland Shivers of Birmingham Alabama. We were below Wheeler Dam filming a show for my program and caught and weighed each one as we landed them and at the end of the day about 4 pm we had 36 bronze backs and the 10 best weighed 51 lbs. Just remembers October, November, and December, them ol’ brown fish get on a feeding frenzy nothing short of amazing.
Hot Weather Deep Water Bass
When bass leave shore for deep-water humps, so should you
When air temps reach the mid-80’s to 90’s and water is up in the 80’s, knowledgeable anglers know it’s time to start looking for bass in their deep hangouts. Knowing that is one thing… finding the haunts that hold big bass is something else.
On major river impoundments all summer long you’ll see bass boats patrolling the first drop off into the channel, one eye on water skiers and the other on their Sonar, scanning the contours for telltale blips marking fish. Rarely, if ever, will I see fishing boats positioned out over the mother lode. I’m talking about deep mid-channel ridges and humps. Before the rivers were impounded, these were mid-stream islands. Now, far from shore and deep below the surface, they’re largely ignored.
When fishing this pattern, look for ridges parallel to the riverbed, 15 to 18 feet deep on the tops with sharp drop-offs going down another 30 to 40 feet. Idle slowly along the edges and check your Sonar for fish down about half-way. Those could be big cats, stripers, or bass… you never know.
In hot weather, smaller bass may be scattered across the top and along the edges. Most of the bigger bass will be situated at the upstream end of the ridge, where the current washes over and around the structure, concentrating baitfish. That zone produces much better than the downstream end of the hump or even the sides of the drops, so start out at the head of the ridge.
Position your boat about 30 to 40 feet off the drop, cast your lure onto the ridge top, and then walk it down the slope. Expect to encounter the biggest fish at about 25 to 30 feet depths.
Earlier this summer, my production company videotaped a TV show on the upper end of Chickamauga Lake. Air temps that day reached 87 degrees and the lake was just a few degrees less. Despite the heat, my guest and I caught 18 nice bass with our best coming during the hottest part of the afternoon. Those ridge-running bass ranged from two and a half or three pounds up to an old sow that topped out the string at seven pounds. These were quality fish, the kind we expect to see in cooler months.
My best fish that day came on an 8-inch motor oil worm with red flakes. As I usually do, I’d dipped the tail in chartreuse dye, and I rigged it on a Secret Weapon Recoil Rig pegged to a half-ounce sinker. To my mind, there is no better presentation when I want my bait to look and feel alive. Bass are able to locate a lure easier and are more inclined to hit one that moves in place as if it were alive. That day, the largest bass came on the Rig. Several nice six-pound bass took an 8-inch bass pattern swim bait and a Texas-rigged Brush Hog.
Whereas I commonly nose-hook 4- to 5-inch finesse worms on drop-shot hooks with a Recoil Rig, larger baits work better when I’m fishing my mid-channel ridge pattern. An 8-inch worm on a 4/0 hook is about right, and I leave about 18 inches of line between hook and the line-lock swivel.
Bring stout tackle and Power Pro line for this deep-water application. Not only will you appreciate the sensitivity, but it’s good insurance as well; you never know what is going to clobber your bait. You may hang a big bass, but your next cast could produce a giant catfish or rock fish, too. Between all those bass last June I reeled in two hefty blue cats, a 15-pounder on the Recoil Rigged worm and a 30-pound behemoth on the swim bait.
For many years one of my standard summertime routines in preparing for guided trips was to catch a mess of bream along the banks early in the morning and drop them in an aerated cooler or livewell. We would fish the banks, grass mats, and ledges as the day hearted up. Then, along about 4 P.M., my clients and I headed out to the deep-channel ridges. I’d drift along waiting for big hybrids, stripers, cats and bass to blast our bream, so we ended up the day with some really hot action.
For some reason I got away from doing that, but this year I tried it again. To my delight and that of my guide clients, it’s still as effective as ever. On the lower end of Watts Bar this mid-channel technique has been producing lots of stripers. Landing two dozen striped bass and hybrids between 4 and 7 P.M. is not uncommon, and most of them go over 20 pounds.
This isn’t just a Tennessee River tactic, either. It’s produced for me at Cherokee Lake on the Holston River and Douglas Lake on the French Broad, and all down through the Tennessee River watershed. It will work for you, too, as long as your reservoir has a distinct, deep channel with mid-river humps. Pull out the lake maps, find some promising deep ridges, and head out for a hot weather, deep bass bonanza.
Just remember when those old bucketmouths clear out of shallow waters, they’re still hungry. To catch them you have to go deep. Real deep.
Good luck on the water and be safe. Make a girl or boy happy and take them fishing. And remember, let’s all fight against water pollution.
The Ol’ Stump Bumper
Fishing Hall of Fame Member since 1972