One of the things that is so important when you are fishing for shallow smallies is to always be prepared with what I call a follow-up bait. What often happens when you’re smallmouth fishing with spinnerbaits or jerkbaits, is that the bass will track your baits back to the boat and turn off at the last second. As some of you know this can be some of the most exciting and frustrating occurrences in fishing. The key to having success is to be prepared with follow-up baits. What I do is have a spinning rod rigged with light line and some type of soft plastic. I position this rod across the front of my bow up by the trolling motor. I keep it there so I can access it immediately when I see a bass tracking my baits.
I usually use a tube for this application, but George at SFT showed me the Reins Cross Swamp Finesse Worm when I stopped by the store on my way up to the FLW Stren Tournament on 1000 islands. When I saw this bait I immediately thought this could be a unique follow-up bait that the smallies have never seen. I put it to work out on the flats of Lake Ontario. I had to adjust my rigging a few times until I got it right, but there is no doubt the smallies jumped on the bait as soon as they saw it. On several occasions the bass came up out of ten feet of water to engulf the lure as it fell.
I rig the bait with Zappu Inchi Whacky Drop Shot Jig Head– 3/32 oz. I used 6 pound test Gamma fluorocarbon on spinning tackle.
One of the keys to working this type of pattern is to respond as quickly as you can. Typically you have a window of about five to twenty seconds to get your bait in front of the following fish. The fish is activated when he is following your lure to the boat and will stay in the active state for only a short time before he spooks and takes off. Your job is to get this bait into the fishes strike zone as efficiently and quietly as possible. If you can execute this properly and in a timely fashion you can expect to catch a number of fish that would have otherwise been missed. Good Luck!
If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the 1000 islands region of New York you have been missing one of the best fisheries in the country right now. There is excellent largemouth and smallmouth fishing on both Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. I highly recommend a trip to the area to experience a great fishery at its peak.
Editor's comments: Pete offers guided trips on the Delaware River and Upper Chesapeake Bays as well as Satellite locations after various tournaments. Just imagine being able to spend a day on the water after Pete has fished it in a tournament and knows the patterns and winning spots! See these links for more details - http://www.petegluszek.com/guiding.htm - Pete's Guide Service