Skip to main content Skip to main content

Fall Smallies On Spinnerbaits

Fall Smallies On Spinnerbaits

This is Mike Karempelis, premier Great Lakes guide and part of the Fish Door County TV team.  Talking to Mike on the phone yesterday, he tells me big smallmouths are lingering shallow in the Sturgeon Bay area of Green Bay, making them vulnerable to the rare but wonderful late-season spinner-bait assault.

"When targeting fall smallmouths with spinnerbaits on big water, there are a couple of keys to consider to ensure a successful day on the water," Mike said.

"Location, as always, is the most important part of the equation. This time of the year, I like to look for steep, hard breaking shorelines adjacent to deep water. Those areas are always prime during just before the cold-water period sets in. The sharper the drop, the better. It allows smallmouths to slip a little deeper when they're inactive or neutral. Then they have quick access to shallow flats when wind, passing cold fronts, and other factors trigger an optimal window for feeding. A typical approach finds me keeping the boat in 12-to 15 feet of water and casting both up toward the shallow flats as well as occasionally casting along the deep breakline and slow rolling the spinnerbait through deeper water."


Those neutral fish can be triggered on a reactionary basis. Working the deep side of the break slow with a heavy bait — up to 1 ounce — can pay big dividends. Most of the time, Mike's using 3/4-ounce baits. But he tries them all.


"Another key is the type of spinnerbait you choose," he adds. "I prefer double willow-leaf designs in late fall like this, and I usually choose a painted blade design in in the clear water we have around here, either in all white, chartreuse, or a combination of the two. The size of the spinnerbait is another critical deal. I always choose a bait in the ¾- to 1-ounce size, as opposed to the typical 3/8- t 1/-ouncers traditionally used for smallmouths during spring and summer.

"The larger size offers two main advantages," Mike added. "First, it presents a larger profile and displaces a bit more water than those smaller counterparts, which is often exactly what big smallmouths are looking for this time of the year as they put on as much weight as possible for the upcoming winter season. Secondly, the extra weight allows me to fish the spinnerbait fast in the shallow water without getting too much lift on the bait, while it enables me to slow-roll the deeper edge without changing rods if fish aren't responding up on the shallow flats. Some of the biggest bass I catch each fall are caught casting that deeper edge, and the bigger bait enables me to cover that range much more effectively."

Spinnerbaits are way overlooked for smallies in fall. They're looking for food. Any indication brings them vectoring in your direction, and spinnerbaits send flash, thump, and vibration way out there in clear water. Mike effectively uses spinnerbaits to put some of his biggest bass of the year in the boat in late October and early November every year.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

Shallow Smallmouths

Shallow Smallmouths

In Door County, Wisconsin, Doug hikes up his waders and goes out to catch smallmouth bass.

Softbait Smallmouths

Softbait Smallmouths

The In-Fisherman staff keeps it on the cutting edge, as they discuss new softbait options for smallmouths.

Top Water Bassin

Top Water Bassin'

Topwater baits are unquestionably a dynamite option for largemouth during the low light hours of the day.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top In-Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now