Lyal and I made the trip to Western Wisconsin on Saturday to pick up his new boat. Wow, what a sharp, good looking boat he designed. The colors are sharp and pop! The fit and finish is great and pictures do not do the boats justice! The carpet is perfect, the seats are stitched perfect and everything looks like quality. There's a lot of work left to do. We are putting Minn Kota Ultrex 52" trolling motors up front. A Solix 15 and 12 on an over under mount will be on the bow. At the console we will have dual Solix 12's. All graphs will be mounted on Precision Sonar mounts. At the back there will be dual 12' Talons. Both boats will have heavy duty Atlas jackplates holding the Verados. There will also me a Humminbird 360 and Hydrowave on the Ultrex. These boats will leave no excuses for a tough bite. I'm ok with that!
All day things lined up and put big fish in the boat. Shallow structure, deep structure, if you kept probing and put the right baits in front of them they were smashing it! Days like this always seem like they go by in a blur. It's like you want to enjoy every little second, but it goes by so fast. Having lots of pictures and video is a great way to relive these special days!
When the fish move out into 18-22' of water, you need a heavy jig to get down there quick. I was throwing a 3/4oz All Terrain A.T. Jig in the Texas Craw skirt pattern. There's something our Minnesota Largemouth love about this color. I was casting to specific rocks that were showing on the Humminbird 360 and snapping the jig pretty aggressive. There were tons of small gills and baitfish schooled up big time out on the deep structure, and by working that jig really fast it got the big fishes attention. They would come over and smash the jig!
October 21st, 2017 was one of those days you dream about! The big smallmouth were gathered up on some deep gravel/rock mixture and they were on the feed. It's structure that I had scanned the previous year, but the fish didn't really use it until this day. I'd stop and check it at random times during the season but no fish wanted to be out on it. Once I rolled over it with my mega imaging and saw the screen light up with activity I knew it was go time. Big, thick, powerful fish waiting to chomp on the poor little baits dropped to them.
I was using a 7'3" Villain spinning rod from Abu Garcia matched with a Revo MGX spinning reel. I had 10lb braid for my main line and an 8lb fluorocarbon leader that was about 4-5' long. They really wanted a bait off the bottom so I had my dropshot setup with a Swagger tungsten 1/2 oz dropshot weight and a #4 hook approximately 15" above it. Little minnow shaped baits were the best.
Using my Humminbird 360, I"d pull up to my main waypoint and as soon as the rocks were on my screen I"d hit the spot lock on my Ultrex trolling motor. Once locked down, it was really easy to catch the fish. I'd just watch the screen, line up my cast with what the 360 was showing me, and put the bait right where I wanted it. Many times the cadence changes to make the fish bite. Once my weight was on the bottom and I felt the rocks I cast at, I'd shake the bait rapidly in place. If they didn't bite after a minute, I'd slow the shaking down. Sometimes they wanted it laying still and slowly sinking to the bottom. With a 15" leader, it would only take a few seconds for your bait to drift to the bottom on slightly slack line. By mixing up the action of the bait you could figure out the mood they wanted and take advantage of it.
Below are the results of scanning, marking, and using the 360 to put the bait right on the fish holding structure!
Second to last trip of the season and the water was COLD! Air temp started in the single digits and the water was in the 30's. Once we figured out the fish it was easy to pattern them and keep our baits in the small windows they were using. I couldn't imagine trying to fish in 18-22' of water without the Humminbird 360. We would spot lock on small little gravel patches with the Ultrex, then pepper the area with drop shots. The key was having every single cast in the right spot, no guessing games of where our baits were. If there was a little wood mixed in with the gravel it was lights out! Trips like this are what gets us through our long Winters up here in the north land.
The big bite was on over this 2 day period! Tough weather and water drop but still managed to boat 9 fish over 5lbs. Lots of 4's that you almost wanted to shake off so you could cast out and hopefully get a 5 or bigger to bite!
Started using a new technique and it paid off big time. Looking forward to the coming season because this new bait should put a major beat down on ice out smallies!
Logan and I got to the lake and headed to a bunch of shallow water areas that usually are loaded with fish. After trying a half dozen spots and not having much luck, we started driving around and watching the Humminbird screens. We noticed a giant flock of seagulls landing out in the middle of this lake. From past scanning I've done, I knew it was over 20 plus feet of water and on top of sunken rocks and wood. We ran over there and scanned one pass over the heart of it. The screens were LIT up with sunfish and baitfish. We made a loop and pulled up with the Minn Kota Ultrex. One press of the button and we were locked on the spot, within casting distance of all the activity. We didn't have to move the rest of the afternoon!
When that water temp starts to dip into the high 40's, it's time to be on the water and chasing tank browns! Once you find them they don't usually move far, but in typical smallie fashion they can pull a fast one on you at any time. I love to check out lots of structure at different depths and once you stick a couple of fish you can usually pattern them the rest of the day. Using the Humminbird 360 lets you figure out pretty quickly if the structure you are fishing is active or void of fish.