Hey I’m Bassmaster Pro Jimmy Mason. Today I want to talk to you today about one of my favorite ways to fish for pre-spawn smallmouth. Today we’re on Pickwick, which is my favorite southern smallmouth lake.
This time of year the smallmouth are gorging and getting ready to spawn. They’re feeding on big threadfin and gizzard shad. Pickwick, Wilson, and all of the Tennessee River are current lakes. So what I want to do is look for areas where the current is broken so the fish have something they can get behind.
One of my favorite deals this time of year is gravel bars. As a gravel bar goes out into the current, it causes a wash. Depending on the level of current you can get an area where the fish can get out of the slight current and chase the bait.
When I’m fishing this my favorite lure for that is the YUM Money Minnow. This is a 5″ swimbait. This is the Foxy Shad color and it imitates the thread fin and gizzard shad very well. It’s got that little splash of chartreuse shoulder down there and this is a 1/2-ounce Buckeye J-Will head.
Also depending on the current I may go up to a 3/4 and if it’s really light maybe a 3/8. But typically 1/2 ounce is the smallest I use because that gives me more lure control as I’m trying to wash it into the current.
We’re sitting off the end of a gravel bar and what I want to do is get my boat slightly downstream from it. I want to cast up past the tip. I picture in my mind the current coming around. If it’s really flowing I’m going to be able to see a seam line where that current is breaking.
If it’s a more gentle current or if they’re pulling less water then I’m going to have to picture in my mind where that current is coming around. But I want to cast up past that seam/ current break and slowly retrieve my lure so that I’m bringing it into that seam and letting it float around.
I’m letting that current wash it around. Those fish are going to be sitting inside this more slack water out of the current and letting the bait get washed to them. My goal when I’m retrieving my bait is I want to let that bait wash in and let that current take the bait to the fish.
So you’re kind of fishing on a controlled slack. You’re retrieving your lure so that you’re pulling most of the slack out of the line and keeping a little forward motion to it. But a lot of that movement is going to be the natural current pushing the bait forward.
When it washes into the current a lot of times you’ll see your line jump before you feel the bite. So you really want to pay attention to your line, the tip of your rod, and let that current take the bit to the fish.