First cast: Take a walk and flip some rocks. It’ll give you the answer to the central question: what’s for (a smallmouth’s) dinner? Once you’ve noted the type, color, profile, and length of the forage you can dig in your crate for something that comes close.
Second cast: Vigilance and observation create opportunity, also known as luck. When baitfish are active and cruising the smallmouth will be too. Tie on a swimbait, grub or shallow running crankbait and fish the middle of the water column.
Third cast: When you catch your first few smallmouth (and catch ‘em you will), pay attention to the speed of current, the water depth and the smallmouths’ relationship to structure. Look for similarities in these factors so instead of relying on luck, you can develop a sure fire pattern.
Fourth cast (warming up!): Rising water is like a dinner bell to smallmouth bass. They’ll feed heavily on displaced prey near the tops of eddies and pools. Fish fast with crankbaits or spinnerbaits. Jackpot!
Fifth cast: Keep it real with your presentations. If you’re using a crayfish imitation crawl it deliberately on the bottom with frequent long pauses just like a “real” crayfish.
Sixth cast: If you’re getting short strikes on your crankbait, lipless crankbait, or hard jerkbait don’t assume the fish don’t want hard baits. Change the size, change the color, or change both and your luck may change.
Lucky number seven: Fear not 1-ounce spinnerbaits in high, muddy flows. Big dark colored spinnerbaits banging the bottom trigger bone-crushing strikes that will leave your wrist feeling like you pitched seven innings in the World Series.
Juan Verute is all about smallmouth bass. The Kayak Fish PA guide is a Wilderness Systems pro staffer.