Clear Water Smallmouth Bass

By John Andrew - June 1, 2011
TRIPLE HEADER, SMALLMOUTH BASS, ALL RELEASED. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, BIIL OBERMINN, BROTHER JACK OBERMINN, AND FATHER, DOCTOR JIM OBERMINN, ALL FROM MADISON WISC. ALL 3 USING 6 INCH BLACK PLASTIC WORMS. JUNE 15TH. 2010. LAKE TOMAHAWK WI. From a Texas rig, to lightly weighted with split shot, to working the surface, the plastic worm is your friend in clear water from opening day to late fall. Choosing the color for your presentation is a trial and error event, although, black, dark red, green, blue, motor oil, purple and several others with metal flake are proven winners. Single hooked worms (through the head), wacky hooked worms (1 hook in the middle of the worm) and pre rigged worms with 1, 2 or 3 single hooks already imbedded into the worm, all of these are deadly from the surface to the bottom, for clear water Smallmouth Bass. Casting these presentations can be easily done with light, moderate or heavy pound test along with spinning, spin cast or open face reels. Working with the super line also works well for this method of fishing.

Sight fishing with polarized sun glasses is best done early in the season, remember, you can never be too stealthy when being stealthy, so quiet and easy is the best approach. A pre rigged worm with the hooks already imbedded inside, is hard to beat, perhaps a 1/32 oz. split shot at your knot to increase the drop rate. This style of worm is the focus of this article for clear water lakes. Let your offering enter the water past your intended target with "no, or minimal splash", flipping is also good when sight fishing, again, "no splash". The critical concept applies to the color, size and shape of your worm, color plays a vital role in the clear water situation and size does matter, in this application, smaller is better. A small diameter, 3 to 6 inch straight pencil shaped worm is ideal for sight fishing. When the bait has been cast out to the Bass, see if a slow sink time, non weighted worm creates a sudden strike response, if not, try a 1/8 oz. split shot at the knot to increase the sink rate to reach the bottom, your knot should be tied directly to the front hook of the worm. The retrieve rate is always slow and then slower. Yes, you will at times, create a strike with this method going faster, but normally the retrieve rate is slow.

When fishing drop offs, brush piles, rock bar ledges, creek channels and as mentioned above, we will continue to use the straight pencil shaped pre rigged worms. Our technique does change but not a lot. Now we are using a single or double 1/16 oz. split shot or a single or double 1/8 oz. split shot for weight put on to our line at a swivel that has a 3 ft. leader tied to our worm. Our locations we target have been pre scouted and we know where we are going to be casting. We cast long distance and let our worm sink on its own, as it goes down we watch the line very carefully, if the line twitches, we set the hook. Also, we never let the worm hit the bottom when fishing these areas, we count the worm down for a designated amount of time then slowly reel the worm back to the boat. The strike is a tap, tap or a slow tension on the line. Normally the 6 inch worm is the worm of choice for this method. An important feature for de hooking these rod bending, hard fighting, line busting bruisers is to carry a pair of hook outs, there are times the fish will take these worms deep and we need to be very careful releasing our youths future.

The suspended Smallmouth Bass is not hard to catch, sometimes hard to locate but once an area is found we again go to our straight worm, pre hooked and sometimes pre scented. Color seems now to be an issue and making the right choice will be proven with the amount of strikes the fisher person receives. Understanding how deep the fish are, how much weight to use, how far up the line do we position our weight, how fast or slow do we move our worm thru the water, the time of day to produce consistent strikes and do we stay above or bring the worm up from the bottom thru the fish with our presentation? These are very important questions. These fish, at times (during the day) are very aggressive, again, once located you can fish these areas for days and days. We drift over the school and troll our baits with the wind or make very long casts with 8 ft. spinning rods loaded with 6 lb. test super line, we like the super line due to the fact that we may cast or drift with over 100 ft. out and like the no stretch and easy strike indication. Longer line out helps us use less weight and we always like to be above the school when retrieving. Moving the bait slowly seems to the best retrieve, although when you reel in , even at high speed, do not be surprised if the Bass out swims your speedy retrieve to completely smash down onto to your worm. Normally but not always, from mid morning to mid afternoon works well for this method. Keeping the split shot around 3 ft. in front of the worm is a good rule to follow.

When we fish deep water for Smallmouth Bass we usually do this in the fall. We fish deep drop offs, deep rock ledges and deep pockets. Locating and catching them on the bottom is normal for us late in the fall. Using heavier weight and dragging the bottom with our pre rigged worms is the norm for us. Now, being deep, at times, means less snags so we do move our worms slowly along the bottom and yes, we do get snagged at times but the results are well worth your effort. We do know when we find the bass deep on the bottom they are very tightly schooled. So, we need to use a marker buoy and we cast past the designated area and let the worm go down and touch the bottom, then we slowly drag the bait back thru the location where we know the fish are.

The plastic worm, several shapes, forms, colors, lengths, and versatility, is a leading seller nationwide from coast to coast. Top to bottom for the Smallmouth Bass, remember, this is on clear water lakes.

Stay positive, think clearly, do not listen to negative talk and do not listen to negative people.

Author John Andrew
John Andrew
Captain John Andrew is the owner and operator of The Angler's Choice Guide Service. John began fishing on Wisconsin's Big St. Germain Lake in 1964 at this grandfather's lakefront cabin. As John's passion for fishing grew he apprenticed under legendary Wisconsin Northwoods guide Jules Novak before he began his own guiding career. John holds two World Records in the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall Of Fame as well as two Outstanding Angling Achievement awards. Click here for more information on John Andrew and The Angler's Choice Guide Service.