Three Tips for Small Water Success

Leverage Simplicity and Mobility to Catch More Bass

Opportunity abounds as anglers pull boats storage, spool reels with fresh line, and hatch plans for their first bass trips of the new season. Many anglers will flock to supersized southern reservoirs to chase trophy largemouth, while others will head to the Great Lakes to land eye-popping smallmouth. However, smaller bodies of water – places where the big boats simply can’t go – are often the ideal places to build incredible fishing memories. This trifecta of tips will help you meet with early-season bass success on your favorite pond or small lake.

Simplify your tackle

When heading to your favorite small water, the last thing you need is a comprehensive library of rods and reels, complemented by overflowing bags of tackle and accessories. Kayaks, canoes, and smaller boats have limited storage space, and you don’t want to break one – or more – of your favorite rods or drop a case full of baits in the drink. Keep things simple across the board, from rods and reels to tackle and tools.

With bass on the agenda, consider two general approaches – power and finesse – and the basic equipment needed to succeed with each. Power fishing may equate to different lures as spring flows into summer and fall. However, during the early part of the fishing season, square-billed crankbaits are exceptionally productive. Shimano’s family of Macbeth crankbaits are excellent choices, providing finely-tuned wobbling actions that bass find irresistible. Present these lures using a well-balanced casting combo built around a 7’2”, Medium power, Moderate action Shimano Curado casting rod equipped with a low-profile Shimano Curado DC reel and spooled with 12 pound-test fluorocarbon or 30 pound-test PowerPro Super8Slick V2. That same combo will support bass power fishing with hard baits throughout the season, especially deep- diving cranks or jerkbaits as the water warms into early summer.

Finesse bass fishing is particularly productive in cold water or when stormy spring weather forces fish into neutral or negative moods. Few subtle bass techniques are more effective than presenting a Ned Rig. A 4” Z-Man Hula StickZ ElaZtech bait rigged on a 1/10 oz Z-Man Finesse ShroomZ jig is responsible for heart-stopping bass catches throughout the entire season – especially while the water remains cool. Spinning tackle is best suited for presenting Ned Rigs. Select a long, lightweight, sensitive rod, like the 6’8”, Medium-light power, Extra-fast action Shimano Curado spinning rod, paired with a 2500-series Shimano Vanford reel spooled with 10 pound-test PowerPro Super8Slick V2. A high-visibility line color, like PowerPro’s HiVis Yellow option, will help you to visually detect light bites from finicky bass.

A small collection of essential fishing tools will help make every fishing trip on small waters successful. A small pair of line scissors will save your teeth when tying knots. Don’t forget a sturdy set of corrosion-resistant pliers to help remove lures from deeply hooked fish. Smith’s Consumer Products pairs both of those implements with a handy tool holder in their Lawaia Pliers and Scissors Combo. A Smith’s Hook and Knife Sharpener will keep your hooks honed to perfection and ensure that your fillet knife is ready for action should a fish fry be in your future. Add those three tools and your collection of essential lures to a small tackle bag, and your adventure is ready to begin.

Fish in all the right places

Locating bass on typical small waters is far easier than the challenges facing anglers on larger lakes or reservoirs. Let water temperature be your guide. When the shallows warm into the upper 50s to 60s, bass will be actively engaged in the spawning process. Largemouth bass prefer relatively firm substrate, like gravel, sand, or hard-packed mud for building nests, generally along the shoreline. Smallmouth bass will typically bed in shallow areas of rock or gravel, with nests often built adjacent to a larger rock or a fallen tree. Smallmouth will also bed on offshore rock reefs, as long as suitable substrate or cover is available. With reasonable water clarity, it is often possible for anglers to see the beds – and the bass guarding them – from above the surface, and to target individual fish they spot from afar. A quality pair of 100% polarized sunglasses, like those from Ocean Waves, are important for anglers sight fishing for bedding bass.

Choose a frame with a wrap-around design that prevents light from sneaking in the sides, like the Ocean Waves Jax Beach frame, and a set of backwater green mirror/glass amber lenses for optimized visibility and outstanding color contrast. As the spawn completes, bass will either move to deep weedlines or into the slop. A shallow bay with a thick surface canopy of lily pads, duckweed, and matted vegetation is a great place to throw a hollow-bodied topwater for summer largemouth. Deep weedlines will hold bass most of the summer months, as they graze on a buffet of small panfish and other baitfish. Here, a deep-diving crankbait or jerkbait, like the Shimano World Diver 99SP jerkbait, reigns supreme.

Control your boat the way you want to

Many of the best small waters to fish for bass prohibit the use of gasoline-powered motors. Here, electric trolling motors rule the roost. In this setting, however, anglers ask their electric motors to do two very different things: transport them to the hot spots as quickly as possible with propulsion from the transom, and then provide subtle boat positioning from the bow as soon as the casting begins.

The new Revolution trolling motors from Pro Controll are uniquely positioned to perform both tasks, easily transitioning from pushing the boat at the stern, to pulling the boat from the bow – and back again as often as needed. The control head of Revolution trolling motors easily rotates by 180 degrees. This allows the tiller handle to be opposite the propeller to power the boat from the transom, or to be aligned over the propeller to facilitate precise positioning and small, boat movements while fishing from the bow. Revolution trolling motors feature a unique mounting bracket that securely attaches to the boat’s gunwale at nearly any position – the transom, bow, or even along the sides – making it easy to move the motor to where it’s needed. A custom Pro Controll Trolling Motor Battery Harness allows anglers to move the Revolution from one mounting location to another without moving a heavy 12-volt battery. With help from the Pro Controll Revolution trolling motor, anglers finally have the freedom to control their boat the way they want to. Now you’re all set to land your biggest bass of the year from your favorite small water. Load up the cooler, don’t forget the sunscreen, and enjoy early season success on a pond or small lake near you!

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