Zero In On Fall Smallmouth

One of the fun things about publishing on this website is that we can bring you fishing news as it’s happening so you can get on the water and take advantage of great opportunities before it’s too late.

Here’s a tip for mid-to-late September. Try fishing for smallmouth bass in rivers such as the Mississippi.

Guide Dave Genz of St. Cloud, Minn., tells us the shorter, cooler nights have put smallies into an early-fall feeding frenzy.

Ted Takasaki with a smallmouth.

He had then Minnesota Twins’ baseball players Tom Prince and Doug Mientkiewicz on the river. They caught 25 smallmouth bass up to nearly 21 inches in 45 minutes.

Here’s how they did it.

They were using 8-1/2-foot steelhead rods. You’ll be fishing in rocky spots so spool up the spinning reels with 10-pound abrasion-resistant line.

Some people use spinnerbaits and buzzbaits at this time of year, and they work, too — in lowlight conditions. But, they don’t do so well in mid-day so your best bait is live bait, Genz said.

The set-up is simple. Use a 3/8-ounce, pinch-grip sinker about 14 inches above a No. 2 hook. And then use big, 6-inch minnows. “When big fish are around, it’s tough to beat them,” Genz said.

Fish directly below the boat to avoid snags.

Let the sinker tap the bottom, then reel it up so it hangs just off it.

Active depths can be as shallow as 3 feet to 5 feet.

Genz will often pull his boat right into a sandbar and leave his motor run to rile the bottom. That releases food from the sand into the water, which brings baitfish, and then gamefish aren’t far behind.

The key to success is to always use a live minnow. Big live minnows are a meal for big smallies.

Early fall is a great time of year because big gamefish are on the prowl hoping to fatten up for winter. That makes them vulnerable. Enjoy the fun!

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