Smallmouths Make For Big Fun
Smallmouth Bass Fight Bigger Than Their Size
by Robb Hoff
September 13, 2012
The Ohio River below the Markland Dam didn't take long to settle after heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Isaac had water pouring straight over the outflow gates. In fact, it was remarkable to see just how little impact those rains had upon the river level and water clarity.
Sometimes a little extra stain to the water can be a good thing, especially when fishing for smallmouth bass. In the Ohio River -- even below a dam when the pool is stable and the generated current not so swift -- there's always some stain, which makes the river a prime spot for the most berserk fish in the water, otherwise known as the snallmouth bass.
I've been catching some decent keeper size fish on a threadfin shad Rapala Shad Rap SR5 recently. Even though the bulk of the fish that hit this lure are hybrid striped bass, every once in a while a ramped up smallmouth will attack out of nowhere and pounce the lure.
Pound-for-pound, there's really no freshwater fish that fights with the vigor and speed of a smallmouth. They are the Tecumseh of the river ecosystem -- they're native to the waterway and they fight as hard as they can until the bitter end.
Smallmouths usually aren't the targeted fish for fisherman who cast their lines into the river, but maybe they should be. The health of the smallmouth fishery in the Ohio appears to be good. They've got good size and great color below Markland Dam. And the threadfin shad are so bountiful that there's plenty to go around for all the species that target both them and grizzard shad.
I used to wade for smallmouths in Ohio River tributary feeders like the East Fork of the Little Miami River. Back then, I'd stock up with Rebel Hellgrammites for light action and Storm Wiggle Warts for bigger fish on heavier tackle. Having caught a few of these beauties lately out of the river, it's got me about geared up to try to focus more on smallmouths in the river than the hybrid stripers.
Of course, I just like to catch what's active, but crashing into a couple of decent smallmouths at the end of the line is quite a jolt and a jolt that's unlike any other species in the river has to offer.