It’s early summer, which is a great time for catching one of my favorite fish, smallmouth bass. To keep things simple and clutter-free in the boat, especially if I’m fishing with a few other anglers, I often limit myself to just two rods and two presentations. So, which are my go-to lures? That’s easy – a swimbait and a jerkbait. And here’s where, when and how I’d fish them.
Big flats adjacent to deeper water are the place to be right now. Firm-bottom flats 3 to 7 feet deep, with a mix of materials including sand, gravel, boulders and smaller rocks are best.
Smallies move onto these flats to feed after they abandon deep wintering grounds. Many smallies also spawn here, and they’ll continue to utilize the area throughout summer when conditions are right, such as at dusk or dawn, and on windy days. So, the best news is if you find a hotspot now, chances are good it will produce fish again and again.
When scouting potential flats, pay attention to the wind. A warm, gentle breeze blowing in helps warm the water and is a big plus during spring and early summer. Conversely, an outgoing wind can lower the water temperature and drive bass into deeper water.
To find bass fast, fancast soft-bodied swimbaits like LIVETARGET’s 4-inch Trout Swimbait on top of the flat. Either drift or use your trolling motor while making long casts and slow, steady retrieves – letting the swimbait’s tail provide the majority of the action.
Suspending jerkbaits excel for fishing the sides of the flat and over nearby deeper water. The 2¾-inch RS70S LIVETARGET Rainbow Smelt Jerkbait is a personal favorite. Fish it with a jerk-pause cadence, experimenting with the number of jerks and duration of pauses. Don’t be afraid to pause the bait 10 to 15 seconds or more if bass are lethargic, or you need to give deep fish time to come up and strike.
Clear or natural tones in lure color that mimic the lake’s forage base are always great choices, but other natural colors can be killers in turbid water or cloudy conditions. I prefer silver/blacks in clear water and go to pearl/flesh or pear/bright green shades in turbid water.
As for the two rods, I like a 6½-foot, medium-action Muse Gold spinning rod spooled with superbraid mainline and fluorocarbon leader for jerkbaits. A 7-foot, medium-action casting rod with low-stretch, 12-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon is ideal for swimbaits because the rod loads nicely when a bass takes the lure.
You don’t need a deck full of rods and 50-pounds of tackle to target early summer smallies. As the video below explains: Keep it simple, remember these two presentations, and you can catch lots of big, hard-fighting smallmouth bass. Good luck!
Images by Chip Leer