Was in the Z-train boat at Oneida watching Brent Chapman and Randy Howell fish, and also spoke to the rest of the Top 12 at the day 4 launch. All were experiencing the same thing when fishing reaction baits for smallies: lots of follows.
The smallmouths were swimming around and nailing the abundant shad (shad-like bait?), and would follow topwaters (Spooks), swimbaits and crankbaits (all of which were white) but more often than not would pass them up. These guys were getting only about 7 keeper bites a day, so you know at least 2x that many fish were zipping up behind their baits.
What to do about that? Jason Quinn told me at the launch, you “just have to reel faster.” I get it, and that may have been one recipe for success. But the Elites I watched just kept casting. Looked for all the world like they were just randomly chucking while getting blown along, though they definitely had waypoints.
As a fisherman – a nowhere-near-Elite fisherman – I’m just naturally sitting there thinking about how I might solve that problem. What would I try? We talked about this a bit in the Bassmaster.com War Room (now presented by Triton Boats – thanks Triton!) webcast. Said I’d try a Fluke-type bait. Slow it down, a feeding smallie might think it’s a baitfish it bumped, easy meal.
(Hey – what happened to Flukes? Are they old news now, or are they not efficient enough for the Elites, or…?)
And here’s my out-of-the-box approach for the fishing situation I saw there: A lot of grass in the water (which to me would argue for a Texas-rigged Fluke but whatever), wind, and the smallies were keying in on a particular size and type of baitfish. In northern natural rivers and lakes in those kind of conditions, I’ve had success throwing – wait for it – an old-school in-line spinner.
Looks like a little minnow, easy to keep at whatever depth, and pretty easy hookups. But have to say it’s been a desperation bait for me. Not one I tie on regularly.
Anyhow, given that fishin’ situation, WWYD?