Randy Howell Pro Tip – Late Summer Smallmouth Tips

Bucks Falcon Mercury

by Randy Howell

Randy Howell Arriving for Weigh-in - photo courtesy of True Image Promotions

Randy Howell Arriving for Weigh-in – photo courtesy of True Image Promotions

The Elite Series is down to just one event left in the season. With the St. Lawrence River and Lake St. Clair still behind us, I am getting pumped up about some more smallmouth fishing at Sturgeon Bay in the AOY Championship event.  I love LAte summertime smallmouth fishing and Sturgeon Bay is one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the country.

I really focus on two main techniques when I am targeting summertime smallies. I like to start by covering a lot of water with a reaction bait. When I find them, I’ll slow down and pick them a part with a few power-finesse techniques.

To start I use my Lowrance HDS units with Navionics and follow the contour lines. I like to start my focus in 10 to 12 feet. My search bait of choice is the Howeller plus by Livingston Lures.  This bait is a little longer than the original Howeller, and it has a harder and wider vibration that moves a lot of water. Smallmouth are very aggressive fish and I think the crankbait is a better approach than the popular jerk bait sometimes when searching for schools of fish, plus it’s faster.

Randy Howell Hooked Up - photo courtesy of True Image Promotions

Randy Howell Hooked Up – photo courtesy of True Image Promotions

In most situations, I like brighter colors for smallmouth, and a couple of my favorites are the Threadfin Shad and Melon Shad colors. The Howeller plus dives 7 to 10 feet which is perfect to get down near the bottom without digging too hard. Smallmouth are very curious by nature and they hate a noisy crankbait ripping over their heads, especially in the summer. This will generate some violent reaction strikes and help you find their little off-shore hiding spots.

If I can’t get bit in the 7 to 10 foot range, I will move out to twelve to 18 foot depths and change to the Livingston Lures Deep Impact. The Deep Impact dives deeper and has a big wobble and will be very effective for smallmouth. I’ve been fishing it quite a bit this season and have had success with it at Hartwell, Kentucky Lake (Elite Series Tournament) and Guntersville.

Every time I catch a fish I add a waypoint to my Lowrance unit. Smallmouth are serious schoolers and when you find one, you usually find more, especially in the summer. Also, pay close attention to the water behind the fish as you are landing them. Good sunglasses like my Costa’s, can help you see fish deep in the water following behind the one you’re bringing to the boat. That’s when I will slow down, back off and pick that area apart.

I’ll get as many bites as I can on the crankbait and jerkbait first before making the switch to something more methodical. Generally I switch to a drop shot or a Senko. For the drop shot my favorite bait is the Yamamoto Shad Shaped worm. There is something about that little bait that works incredibly well for smallmouth. I like green pumpkin (color number 297), green pumpkin/watermelon laminate (color number 912) and goby color (color number 967).

Randy Howell Weighing-in Smallmouth - photo courtesy of True Image Promotions

Randy Howell Weighing-in Smallmouth – photo courtesy of True Image Promotions

As an alternative to the drop shot I use a wacky rigged Senko. I rig it with a 2/0 Diachi straight-shanked hook. I like to make long casts with it and let it fall to the bottom. I will shake it on slack line a few times, then retrieve it and do it again. Most of the bites will come on the initial fall or on the first few shakes.

For rods and reels I use a variety of Daiwa products. For line I use Daiwa J-braid and Gamma edge fluorocarbon.   Here are the setups I use for each of the techniques I discussed:

Livingston Lures Howeller Plus – Daiwa 7’ Medium Tatula rod,  Daiwa Zillion 7:3:1 baitcast reel, 12 pound Gamma Fluorocarbon.

Livingston Lures Deep Impact – the new Daiwa 7’11” Medium Heavy Zillion rod, Daiwa Tatula Type-R 6.3:1 reel, 12 to 14 pound Gamma fluorocarbon line.

Yamamoto Shad Shaped Worm & Senko –  Daiwa 7’3” Medium Zillion spinning rod, Daiwa Procyon 2500 spinning reel, 20 pound Daiwa J-Braid with 12 pound Gamma fluorocarbon leader. Note:

TIP: The Procyon 2500 spinning reel is very fast at 6.0:1 gear ratio and it picks up 35.6 inches of line for every handle turn. This is a key to catching up to smallmouth as well as saving time when fishing a Senko on long casts in deeper water.

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