Sunday November 12, Jonathan and Sean joined me on the Nitro to catch smallmouth at my nearby “Western” type impoundment. 33F air temp a bit prior to 10AM with calm to light winds but a good deal of sunshine on what was supposed to have been a cloudy day. Launching was a bit tricky from the side of the old gravel road but all went well. Water temp was 51F. More than I thought it would be.
Sean has heard about blade style baits but had never fished them or seen them fished. After a few minutes of coaching, he was on his way to fishing this unique piece of metal that smallmouth bass seem to love in the late fall. Our first spot in 20 to 30 feet of water had some fish around and the action was good for the first hour. Smallmouth from under 12 inches to 4 pounds were found moving around along with a good number of perch. Most of the perch were small with a few being in the bait size of under 4 inches. With the light wind, and the fish showing themselves on the sonar, Sean and Jon were pretty successful “video game” fishing. Dropping their baits over the side of the boat and vertical jigging the marks they could see on the Humminbird sonar.
We worked mainly 4 different baits including the Blade bait, a dropshot small worm, a 4” curl tail grub and a 3.8” boot tail grub. Surprisingly, the drop shot was the least productive while the blade, and heavy boot tail grub accounted for most of the action. Though the best of the day was caught on the 4” curl tail grub on a 1/8 ounce ballhead. That fish was 20.5 inches and weighed 4.3 pounds.
After our first spot died down, we moved off to a mid-lake deep structure area that topped off at 45 feet deep. I was expecting it to be about 35 feet deep but I guess there is a bit more water in the reservoir than I thought. Matter of fact, if the jersey barriers were not blocking the main ramp, I likely could have launched there. Anyhow, we made a few passes of this spot and didn’t see al of of marks as I was hoping but we gave it a try anyhow. After 20 minutes of vertical jigging the blades and hooking up with nothing other than rock bass on nearly every drop, it was off to another spot. This is a small flat with some cover that kisses the 80 foot deep river channel. Normally, this can be a good numbers spot but not this day. I got one 2 pound smallmouth on a Silver blade.
Finish off our afternoon back on the original starting spot. A few more fish but nowhere near as active as when we first arrived. Though I did manage three solid fish in five casts from the same small boulder in about 22 feet. Those fish all took a ¾ ounce boot tail grub. Each fish I felt nipping at it while the bait was being slow dragged off the boulder, but they did not eat it solidly until it just cleared the rocks. A short while later, then sun was touching the hilltop and that was our signal to put back on the trailer. We finished the day with 17 keeper smallmouth, 6 under sized bass, and a bunch of yellow perch and rock bass. Our three best smallmouth were 4.3, a 3.9, and 3.6 pounds. Many of the others were 2 pounders though. Now, if all this December type weather we’ve been having would back up a bit, I think there may be a few more trips to this smallmouth lake.
July 18, 2017
Summertime! My most productive time of the year. Generally, from late July through August there is a good population of bass that have moved off of the bank and onto and into some deeper water. During the daylight, give me two rods. One rigged with some kind of jig type bait, and the other being a dropshot rod.
Once the fish get out to 13 feet or grater in our area waters, they become easy targets for the drop shot technique. The overall set up is relatively simple. You have a weight attached to the end of your line with a small, thin wire hook attached about a foot above the weight. Attach a numerous array of soft plastic worms, minnow imitators, or crawfish and, you are going to get bit. If not by bass, nearly all other fish see your bait as a feeding opportunity. If you like fishing a Senko weightless, wacky style, the drop shot may be right up your ally. As there are many methods to fishing (i.e.) retrieving a drop shot, the majority of your bites will come as the bait is sitting still. Just as the Senko works best allowed to fall on a free line, the drop shot can often be at its prime while sitting still.
For me, a good drop shot bait has to float. Or at least not sink fast. A bait such as a 4” Roboworm will generally float the light wire hook off the bottom weed or muck. The 4” Lunker City Ribster, and Gary Yamamoto, Shad Shape Worm are also good choices as well as the Z-Man Finesse Shad. All of these baits have a tendency to float and imitate a small baitfish almost perfectly. Enough of the baits. I’ll leave that to the marketers who. By the way do a great job offering us very style and color imaginable. I’m nor sponsored by any of them.
What is the perfect rod and reel for dropshotting? Everyone has their own preferences but, I want a high speed spinning reel (6:1 or greater) in the 200 class paired with a lighter rod in a Medium action with a moderate power, around 7 feet long. I first started dropshotting using 6# P-Line Flouroclear line (which is outstanding light line for ANY application) but moved to 10# Power Pro braided line. This year, I moved to the same line but in yellow. Due to eye sight and many missed fish on the drop I made this adjustment and so far so good. With the braid, especially the yellow, I am tying on the 6# P-Line Fluoroclear as a leader, about 8 feet long, using a simple and fast Uni to Uni knot. I use a Gamakutsu #2 Split shot/drop shot hook. The next size up moves to a heavier wire and changes the presentation. It is absolutely amazing on how well this tiny hook sticks the fish. And lastly, the weight. I prefer the ¼ oz. Linker City Bakudan SKINNY” OR “PENCIL” WEIGHT. The thin cylindrical weight MAY come through the cover better. After the uni to uni knot, and about 8 feet of leader, I tie the small Gamakatsu hook about 1 foot of the end of the line using a Palomar knot. The tag end of that knot will be re-inserted through the eye of the hook dropping downwards and the weight simply pinches to the bottom of that line.
The retrieve, can vary from a slow pull to sitting absolutely motionless. Sometimes they want that bait quivering which you can do by shaking the rod tip on a slack line, while at other times they may want you to cover some ground and pull it slowly across the bottom. The retrieve largely depends on the mood of the fish so let them tell you how they want it. All fish seem to want this bait, it takes a bit of time to figure out what type of bite is a bass bite and which are nuisance fish. Either way, in the summer time this rig will get enough bites to keep your interest level up.
The hook set. Due to the nature of that small hook, and if you are using braided line, your hook set does not need to be violent. Contrary to the typical rubber worm hookset, most times with the drop shot it is no more than a “Lift and reel” situation. That tiny light wire hook often stabs them itself as soon as you put pressure on the line. From then on through the battle is usually up to your drag, and the rod. Crank when the fish is not pulling, and let the rod absorb the shock when they are pulling. Even using a light monofilament line, you usually do not need to give the hook a monster hook set.
The great thing about the drop shot is that it can be used not only in the summertime but the spring in shallow water can be pretty productive as well as the fall and winter when the fish get grouped up on points and sharp drops. All the modern electric sonar units on the market now may give you an opportunity to “video fish”. In the late fall/early winter time, you can mark individual fish on your sonar and drop you rig on top them and most likely catch that same fish. Myself and others have also used the drop shot while ice fishing. It works! Not all the time, but enough to keep me coming back to it but, in the summertime when the bass are setting up on their deep stuff, it is definitely one of my preferred techniques.