After fishing the NorthernLakes Bassmaster’s Open on LakeTomahawk on Saturday, September 17, we knew what our game plan would be for the Angler’s Choice Tournament on Sunday, September 18.

Late in the tournament day Saturday, we were fortunate enough to learn what presentation the smallmouth wanted, and since the Angler’s Choice was also on the Minocqua/Tomahawk chain, we knew that some subtle equipment adjustments needed to be made.

The rod choices would be the same – let me review those here:

  • The G.Loomis NRX 852s JWR - This is a 7'1" Extra Fast action Medium power spinning rod that I chose as a drop-shot rod. This is the lightest, most sensitive spinning rod I have ever have ever handled, but yet the extra fast taper lets you maintain complete control of the fish from the deepest depths, all the way to the boat!
  • The G.Loomis NRX 873C CRR - This is a 7'3" Fast action Medium-Heavy power casting rod that I chose as a Carolina rig rod when using leaders shorter than 36". Once again, this is a super light rod with which you can feel every rock or pebble that the sinker drags over - you can also feel a transition from gravel to sand, sand to muck, etc. Equally important is the backbone that the rod has to sink a hook in the hard bone of a fish's mouth even with 100' of line out.
  • The G.Loomis NRX 893C JWR - This is a 7'5" Extra-Fast action Medium-Heavy power casting rod that I chose as a Carolina rig rod when using leaders longer than 40". This rod has all of the characteristics of the 7'3" rod I chose, but the extra-fast action helped me pick up bite transmissions when using extremely long leaders.

Since the fish were suspended, I decided to add one rod/reel to the mix – that rod was the G.Loomis NRX 853C JWR – This is a 7’1” Extra-Fast action Medium-Heavy power casting rod that I chose as a jigging spoon rod. Often times a fish will hit a jigging spoon on the fall, right after you quickly sweep the bait. This rod is ultra light weight, so you can feel the slightest tap of the bait, but it has all the power in the world to wrestle a fish out of the deepest water. This rod was rigged with a Shimano Curado 200 E7. You need a reel that will cast a country mile when using a jigging spoon – it also must have a superior drag system and a fast retrieve to pick up slack in the line quickly. This reel far exceeds all of my expectations and needs!

The last equipment adjustment I made for this tournament, was fishing line. The technique that I used on Saturday was a Carolina rig with a one ounce sinker and a long monofilament leader. What mono does well, is float – when used in conjunction with buoyant bait, you can keep the bait moving horizontally through a school of suspended fish. You can cover a lot of water per retrieve and stay in the strike zone. The down side of mono line is stretch. For Sunday’s tournament, I respooled my main line to 40 lb. Power Pro braid. Power Pro has virtually no stretch which offsets the stretch factor of the mono leader. Power Pro is extremely strong and the 40 lb size is the diameter of 10 lb mono or fluorocarbon line. When fishing deep, "feel" is the key to boating fish - this rod/reel/line combination left no stones unturned in regards to feeling the bite!

Well, Sunday morning the tournament took off on time – outside air temperature was in the mid 40 degree range and the barometric pressure was steady. I really wanted to see if we could find some fish in the very extreme depths early, that we could pop a 5 fish limit pretty quick.

The first spot we went to was a rock shelf in 72’ of water. I checked the spot with the Humminbird 1198 on the side image screen and it looked like it was loaded with fish. I then switched the screen to down-imaging next to the map/chart screen and drove over the top of the waypoint. There were 2 good schools of ciscoes in 28’ to 40’ of water, and a large school of smallies between 60’ and 72’ of water. (see the picture below - the coordinates have been blacked out to protect the innocent) We fished the long leader Carolina rigs in that school for almost 3 hours. The largest fish we caught was the first one on the spot, and that fish weighed 3.02 lbs. We caught 20 plus other keepers from that spot, but they were all between 1.75 and 1.85 lbs.

We spent the remaining 5 hours of the tournament jumping from spot to spot and caught probably another 20 keepers, but never did catch any kicker fish to help our weight.

At the scales, our 5 fish limit was 10.41 lbs, which was good enough for 2nd place and a nice check. The winning bag was 10.81 lbs, and 3rd place was 9.06 lbs. There was a total of 3, 5 fish limits caught. I feel fortunate that we caught one of those limits!

I would say 80% of our fish came on the Carolina rig, 15% on the jigging spoon and 5% on the drop-shot.

I do need to bring up fish care at this point. When fishing in water deeper than 30’, fish need to be fizzed. Fizzing is the practice of inserting a hypodermic needle through the fish's swim bladder to release air. The swim bladder is a gas-filled sac in a bass that is used to regulate buoyancy in the fish. This practice can be completed through the mouth or through the skin of the fish. Please research this process before fishing deep water.

At the Skeeter Boat Center Open House on Saturday, January 14, 2012, I will have a Deep Water Smallmouth fishing seminar. I will go in to greater detail of locations, equipment, fizzing and baits. Please join us if you can!!

I would like to thank the following sponsors:

The Skeeter Boat Center

G. Loomis and Shimano


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Deep Water Smallmouth Fishing - Part 2

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This is Why I Hunt!!