The long Thanksgiving Day weekend typically has some nasty weather thrown in each year just to remind us of the lean times ahead, but this year, Mother Nature was pretty nice to us and it allowed me three days of fishing. Thanksgiving morning my son and I were able to fish Lake McDonough from the bank for 2.5 hours. A couple of hours of above freezing temps allowed us to nab 8 largemouth bass all between 1.25 lbs. and 2.25 pounds. The toughest part of the morning was trying to work our baits uphill through the rock littered bottom in 15 to 20 feet of water. If the water had been down another three feet, we would have easily been able to stand on a deep flat lip bordering the drop off. Instead, we had to crank our baits up the drop quickly as to not to snag but that only gave us a short distance to work our baits even on the longest cast. Unfortunately, we donated a fair share of baits that morning. We caught them on 4” curl tail grubs, Tubes, a jig & pig and a 3.8 inch boot tail grub. As long as you could keep it near the bottom, and snake it over the rocks a bit we could get rewarded occasionally.
Friday dawned clear and cold with no wind what so ever, but it wasn’t until about 9:30 AM that my friend Adam and I could start fishing for smallmouth in Colebrook. What a nice day it turned out to be. With light south winds and not a cloud in the sky, Adam was fishing in a T-shirt for a bit. Of course, once he took his jacket off, the wind started up and never really dropped below 5 mph. Didn’t matter though as the first spot we pulled up onto had some fish on it and the first one into the boat was a nice chubby 18.5 inch smallmouth bass. Adam and I only threw a ½ ounce silver or gold blade bait and a 3.8 inch Kietech Fat on a ½ ounce football head. And within a short time, I took Adam’s silver blade off and swapped it for the same gold as I was throwing because I was already up 3 – 0 on the guy. He had never thrown either of these baits before but got the hang of the retrieve OK but apparently never got the feel of the bite down as he ended up only landing an undersized smallmouth and rock bass. Adam hasn't fised in a long time and is starting to get back into it after a long absence. We were around fish though, and seeing he couldn’t hook up on the Blade bait I set him up with the big grub and gave him half a dozen casts of instruction before I ever wet my bait. Of course the first cast for me with the same rig gave me a three pounder. The second cast gave me a 1.5 pound smallie. Another 20 minutes and Adam still isn’t hooking up. We ended our day at 2PM with a total of 12 smallmouth and I ended up getting all of them. A few of them were nice fish in the 18.5 to 19 inch range. I felt really bad for my friend but he understood that presentation and presence were key.
Today, November 25, I texted my buddy as I was having a cup of coffee on the back porch. Bill wanted to fish in the morning and I told him the lake was dead calm again with a sunny sky. We made plans to meet at the Highland Lake boat ramp in a short amount of time. Once we launched the boat, of course the wind started up. It gusted so strong out of the south when I went to get out of the truck, I had an issue opening the door. And then, the wind never let up, all day. Bill doesn’t have the Spot lock on his boat as I do and today I got a good reminder of just how fortunate I am to have some state of the trolling motor. Again our bait choices were narrowed down to a blade bait, a 3.8 inch grub and a little bit of heavy jig & pig thrown in for good measure. We started our day at the deep flat at the southwest portion of the lake and found absolutely nothing except for one fish I hooked up with on the blade bait in about 25 feet of water. This was a strong, heavy fish with a lot of head shakes. Almost more head shaking than a smallmouth should have. But alas, we’ll never know as the fish pulled off half way back to the boat. We tried a few other spots and could get nothing going for us until we finally got out to the “good spot” in second bay. We wrapped our day up there with Bill getting two largemouth on a blade bait and myself getting one on the jig. My jig bite kind of funny as this mottled, black spotted bass, absolutely cracked my jig but I ended up foul hooking it in the belly! Our only good fish from the morning was a nice 20” brown trout Bill hooked on the 3.8 grub/swimbait.
Hopefully there will be a few more opportunities to get out on the weekends before we really have to button things up for the season. I winterized the small boat this afternoon and am hoping I don’t have to put away the Nitro for a few weeks yet. There are still some good fish to be caught.
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.