September 29, 2011
After writing yesterday's post on the Salmo Hornet, Mary and I hit the river for the last two hours of daylight. The final 20 minutes was an amazing display. The dense, warm atmosphere filtered out all but orange and air brushed it across the entire western horizon as we made our way back to the ramp.
Ospreys were gathering. Many species of waterfowl are on the move early. Soon the bats will head both north and south for caves where they hibernate.
Smallmouths, too, in a sense. They're moving up or down the river to find wintering habitat — deep pools that offer stability when their world is snapped shut under a lid of ice. Along the way they concentrate in areas where forage is thick.
Finding these areas can be difficult. Sometimes they change from year-to-year, and sometimes they stay the same for decades. The quickest way for me to find them, year after year, is with a Rapala DT6.
The DT6 is versatile tool. It triggers just as well when crawled along bottom fairly shallow (3 feet) as when ripped erratically across 8- to 10-foot flats. When exploring, I can count on it to produce reactions no matter what the river throws at me. Most of the time I'm pushing up river with the trolling motor or anchored. In either case, I'm casting up river and bringing the lure down. That's what smallies expect most of the time.
Every craw pattern of DT6 — the olive backs, the cream bellies, orange bellies — they all worked. We caught about 18 bronze butterballs up to 4 1/2 pounds — most in areas we've never fished before. Every fish crushed the crank and launched itself briefly. Most hit the water running, some ripping boatward, backs out of the water, causing seven kinds of ruckus.
Making the extended sunset, and the ride home, all the more enjoyable.