June 04, 2012
By Matt Straw
If you live where you can catch smallmouths like this every day, please write to me and explain how you're able to concentrate at work.
Smallmouth fishing in the northern Midwest is on fire. Traverse City, Saginaw Bay, Door County, Lake Erie, the Portage Canal, Lake Ontario, Big Bay de Noc, Chequamegon Bay—the region has dozens of awesome Great Lakes spots surrounded by hundreds of magnificent inland fisheries like the Mississippi River, Lake Champlain, the Wisconsin River, Rainy Lake, Torch Lake—no way can we name them all.
But we can try. In an upcoming post I'll be trying, once again, to rank the best smallmouth fisheries on the planet. We've done it quite a few times over the years in the pages of In-Fisherman magazine and the featured spots change quite a bit as some fisheries fade back toward plain fabulous while others—like Lake Erie—never seem to slip out of the "legends of awesomeness" category.
This one bit a bobber-wacky rig today. We suspend wacky rigs under Rainbow Plastics A-Just-A-Bubbles, using YUM Dingers, Yamamoto Senkos, or finesse worms from Berkley, Jackall, Roboworm, and several other companies. The rod is a St. Croix Legend Tournament Slip Stick, an 8.5-foot, telescoping workhorse of a fishing rod that flat subdues smallmouths you could saddle up and ride home. The A-Just-A-Bubble is twisted onto 10-pound Berkley FireLine and a swivel is tied below that. Depending on the depths of the areas being fished, I tie 2- to 6-foot leaders, mostly with 10-pound Ande Fluorocarbon, 8.6-pound Raven Invisible Fluorocarbon, or Toray Superhard 8-pound fluorocarbon. Size #4 to size #2 Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Wacky-Worm Hooks, Owner Mosquito Hooks, or Gamakatsu Baitholders terminate the rigging.
This fish felt like a boulder. It didn't even twitch for the first 10 seconds, rope-a-doping me into thinking the rig was snagged. It almost worked. Her bulging bronze back went surging through the surface film, into the color-saturating light of evening. At 21.5 inches, she was no bigger than a couple we caught yesterday and slightly smaller than several we made acquaintances with last week.
I'm supposed to be finishing a couple articles and packing for Trout Rock on Great Slave, but all I can think about are those bronze fish boiling the surface of the lake under a taught line—wondering how I can squeeze in just a couple more hours of bass fishing before I head for the air port.