Big Baits = Big Fish?

by Chris Gorsuch

 one of the perks of being on the water daily, (and there are many) is the ability to observe river smallmouth throughout the seasons. Observing just how much bass move day to day and throughout the year explains why patterns can take a while to develop.  Bass move for a wide variety of reasons; cover, forage and reproduction are just a few. It is said, locate the forage, and the bass will not be far behind. I find this to be true on lakes and rivers alike. 

  Most of us anglers are inquisitive, hungry to learn and anxious to ask questions. Lure size and how it equates to catching larger fish is a question that comes up often, especially when anglers are actively targeting citation class fish. 

  Many of my clients dabble in local tournament fishing and whether they are in a five fish format or a best fish lunker tournament, the goal is to land big fish.  I have even had some book evenings only so they could mimic as much of the conditions as possible. One angler booked multiple trips and put those experiences to work the following year finishing first in his Thursday night league. 

   Overall, I believe most of my clients first seek an active day of catching fish, the second goal is catching some big fish.  Most prefer fish size over numbers, but not at the cost of not catching at all. And that makes perfect sense to me. 

  We have all heard the saying; “big bait equals big fish,” or something very similar to that effect. And while many of my largest bass have come on finesse style lures, there is something to say about this adage. 

  For years, I have used 6” and 7” swimbaits for smallmouth in April and November trying to entice those bass looking to calorie gorge for pre-spawn or when bass are trying to fatten up for a long cold winter. The why for me is simple, I have seen wolf packs of bass in the spring and fall targeting chub suckers up to 8”.  I’ve even witnessed several bass that year strike a lure and when landed, many coughed up these chub suckers. It was eye opening. And tossing larger baits during this time period works. But what about during the rest of the year?

   For about a year now, five, six and even seven-inch glide baits have intrigued me. While designed more for larger gamefish, I have seen how aggressive these fish are. A slowly sinking two or three-segmented glide bait would almost have to be irresistible to larger class smallmouth. Rather than just fishing them in early spring  and fall, I decided to throw glide baits  all year and see what happens. 

   One of the first observations that will was that it took quite a few more throws per strike than smaller lures do. I realize that doesn’t likely surprise anyone.  Another observation is that on average, bass caught on the glide bait were larger. This is not to say that a 15” smallmouth will not strike these glide baits, but I have yet to see many smaller.  The glide bait is most definitely not a numbers game, and I am willing to bet that as the water warms, it will grab the attention of larger bass. 

  Anglers will find that the glide bait takes a bit of time to master. As was recommended to me, let me share that a slow sinking glide bait on fluorocarbon line is preferred. Work the bait slowly, letting it glide side to side as the name suggests, just a couple of feet below the surface.  This has worked well in the cold water that this year has offered so far. I am anxious to experience what this bait will do come spring, summer and fall. Anglers should take some precaution as these large glide baits will draw interest from pike, musky and large walleye. Throwing the glide bait on heavier test line will help protect the investment. 

  Big bait for big fish is a fun test, and I cannot wait to see how these big baits perform post spawn and during the dog days of summer. Stay tuned, as I follow up on how this performs on our eastern rivers. 

   Let’s not forget that rookie, Jay Przekurat, smashed over 100 pounds of monster smallmouth, breaking tournament records using the small 3.5” Strike King Half Shell on a drop shot rig. There is certainly a time and a place for small profile lures as well. A balanced approach is always a wise one.

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