A year ago I was with this crazy man from under the Falls. That’s Fort Niagara there, behind Mr Niagara Region Charter Service. Frank Campbell. He put me on one of the most fantastic bites I’ve ever been on. It was an epiphany.
The tube hanging from that big smallie’s jaw attracted lake trout and big browns that day. too. Prompting me to wonder: How many times have I been on Buckaroo Banzai kinds of bites, beyond the 8th Dimension, where multiple species were attracted to the same bait in the same areas at the same depth and the same time?
The answer is a lot. Walleyes and smallies often converge on shallow reefs during summer, sharing a common respect for jig worms. Huge steelhead and brown trout often converge in the tributaries of the Great Lakes, making you wonder which might be next to take a spawn bag suspended under a float. Prespawn largemouths and postspawn pike converge at about 8 feet and go gaga in unison for suspending baits. Bluegills and crappies, pike and muskies, catfish and walleyes, king salmon and smallmouths—the freshwater world is chock full of moments where species collide while pursuing the same forage at the same time.
When you’re on smallmouths over 5 pounds, this is a nice double to have. Armed with 7-foot, medium-power spinning and casting sticks, Frank and Matt Carufel of Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle had a wild time landing these two 6 pounders. Imagine what a 17-pounder is like on that tackle? We found out. Those are not ok-better-smile-for-the-camera faces. This is serious fun. Some of the lakers we caught topped 17 pounds. Some of the smallmouths topped 6 pounds. The one bonus brown popped with (what else?) a tube weighed over 16 pounds. Party time.
And I started thinking, why shouldn’t people plan their vacations around phenomena like this? It’s possible. And the upside is, when conditions go south, the possibility exists that one of the two or three species involved will still be reasonably responsive.
The topic will turn up again.
Meanwhile, we were using 8- and 10-pound Silver Thread monos and fluorocarbons and 1/4-ounce insert heads to maneuver tubes through the zebe-encrusted shallows of Lake Ontario, near the mouth of the Niagara. A slow drag-and-pause dance triggered most of the smallmouths, while a drop-pause-swim step drove the lake trout insane. They powdered those tubes, making us thank Frank he didn’t spool up with braided lines. That would hurt.