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MNoutdoors99

I Can't Catch Smallmouth Bass, Do I Suck At Fishing?

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MNoutdoors99
Posted (edited)

Hey guys, I have been trying to target Smallies lately and been striking out left and right. I have never caught one and want to change that. I have no trouble finding Largemouth Bass and catching them but every time I have tried fishing for Smallmouth bass I just get skunked.. I have a boat and live in Buffalo and fish around Wright County. Places I have tried fishing so far:

 

* Mississippi River on shore by Monticello twice

* Mississippi River on shore by Clearwater

*Buffalo Lake (Ice fishing season)

* Crow River on shore by Delano

*Coon Rapids Dam

* Mississippi by Montisippi park on shore and upstream near the nuke plant on my Jon Boat 

*I should also note I have fished in waters with Smallmouth's in them but not specifically targeted them.

 

I am using jigs with artificial baits like Senkos and crawfish, tried some topwater lures like Superspook Jr.'s and weedless bitsy bug jigs.

 

I would like a place where I can find them consistently.. I watch too many youtube videos of anglers and they make it look easy.. 20 mins of fishing and they already have a solid football in the boat.

 

I guess I don't fish enough and don't have many buddies that want to go often so that makes it less appealing to go out and fish, especially trying new places / and targeting new species.  I don't want this to seem like a childish rant but 

I just went out today on the river with my boat and fished for a few hours and tried several spots I was almost positive I would get bit, such as a tributary mouth, flooded woods, and just casting towards shore and retrieving while drifting down stream. I lost 2 lures and all the fishing line from my reel on snags. (I got snagged while drifting fast with the current and I tried to turn around and drive to the snag but ran out of line.) So as I plan tomorrow to get some new line which was needed anyways... does anyone got any advice for Smallies around the metro area?? I have put about 24 hours into catching one and no such luck.

 

Thanks for reading - Jim

 

Edited by MNoutdoors99
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Jplante

Not a lot of experience with Smallies, but i would head to Mille Lacs. If don't have a large boat don't be intimidated and wait until its a decently calm day and head the south side of Mille Lacs. 

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Hoyt4

You are in smallie water already in the list you have above. We do very well in the Monticello area. Maybe because the water is so high might have them in different areas or bite is off.

 

We fish wacky style a lot with 4 inch senkos and tubes. I started using a swim bait last summer but the tube and wacky was out doing that.

 

Mille Lacs can be a blast if you can find them on the rocks and they are a blast early summer.

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Wanderer

The ‘Sippi is high so I wouldn’t feel too beat down about not getting any smallies on your recent outings.  You’re fishing the right water, just not the best of times.  As for the lake; ice fishing is usually a low odds way of finding smallies.  They can be found - and crushed when they are but it’s not common.

 

About the only thing I’d add to your efforts at this point is a shallow diving X Rap.

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DonkeyHodey

I don't know the metro area, but If you are willing to travel to the Saint Cloud area (~hour drive) I'd point out the Mississippi river both north and south of St. Cloud (particularly south of the dam) is really a world-class fishery for the smallies (FYI:  south of St. Cloud is maintained with the catch/release regs--all smallies 12-20 inches are to be released...)

(while you can use your boat, if you're fishing these areas, it's not at all necessary...--plenty of shore spots.  Although, alot of people enjoy kayaking/floating the stretch from the SC dam down stream (motors tend to get "mementos" in propellers...); it's really a beautiful area and the fishing is usually great; DNR has declared it a "wild and scenic river" and that's no understatement!)

 

In North Saint Cloud, the Sartell dam/watab river entrance is busy/active and you can catch lots of 'em there; both sides of the river south of the SC dam have alot of public land (SCSU, parkland) that you can wander/fish.

 

I bet there's quite a few anglers around here that would go shore fishing with you...  Post in the saint cloud or Mississippi River north forum that you want someone to shore fish with and you'll probably get a few bites!

 

(Personal:  my wife caught her first smallie in the Miss yesterday with a nightcrawler...--don't be afraid to try crawlers/leeches/minnows.  Rapalas (floating or crank/rattle) are my fake-bait of choice. (...but I like crawlers 'cause it's ALOT cheaper when I get hung up and lose a lure when it's only a hook as opposed to a $$$ rapala...  *disclaimer*--be prepared to lose lots of lures in the river.  It just is.)

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gimruis
Posted (edited)

The commenters already indicated what the problems may likely be at this point, so I'll simply repeat them.  Rivers are very high.  They are turbid.  The water is still quite cold too.  None of those factors favor smallmouth bass fishing.  Rivers are a great way to target smallmouth, but not right now.  Wait until the water levels drop, the water clears up, and the water warms up (July-August-September).  I fish the Rum River and the Mississippi River in the summer mostly with topwater lures, and it can be phenomenal at times for smallies.

 

Mille Lacs has bigger smallmouth than just about any body of water in the entire country right now, but they are becoming harder to catch because of the pressure (a #1 ranking will do that).  People know about it now and the fish have wised up.  You could try it on a calm day but be aware that it will not be easy out there either.

 

Forget about ice fishing for them.  They hibernate in the winter.

Edited by gimruis
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MNoutdoors99

Thanks for all the replies guys, I will wait till the water goes down on the River and try again. I would love to head out to Mille Lacs someday for all kinds of fishing but don't know if I will get around to it this summer. Do any of you guys know much about Cokato Lake? I was reading another thread on here and a few people were praising it for Smallies at the mouth of sucker creek. May have to give that a try sometime soon.

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expl

Buffalo has plenty of smallies,some nice ones also.I have caught more than a few when out walleye fishing this season.

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Wanderer

Good for you!  Looks like a great day on the water!

 

The River has finally gone back down to near normal.  Still a bit high but looking much more fishable than it has been.

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Wanderer

I was just out on the river for a couple hours this morning and wasn’t real impressed yet with the fishing.  The water is getting closer to normal levels but I expected it it be a little clearer and a little slower.

 

No bass caught and one pike bite off.  The bass I MAY have seen were in a small eddy slurping worms off the surface that were getting blown off the trees.  Popper time?  Maybe, but probably not yet.  I think they’re in post spawn.  For the stuff I fished and how I fished it, I shoulda seen more life.

 

I’d say stick to your lake stuff right now.  On another note, I’ve never seen so much moss drifting through either

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Wanderer

@eyeguy 54

 

Was there a Trolling for Troops event out of Camp yesterday?

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MNoutdoors99

I went back with a buddy again to Cokato and same spot, lots of big carp jumping and in the Sucker Creek. I had a school of crappies also chasing my rapala back to my boat too in there. It was really windy and the trolling motor is acting up so it was pretty unproductive for the first part of the day. Finally got anchored on a good rock and caught a little smallie and then proceeded to hook into my biggest one I have had on the line. It was putting up a great fight but it ended up jumping right next to the boat and threw the hook.. Had to be 18" at least. Also was able to get my buddy on his first smallmouth as well. Been using a Jointed Rapala size 7 and it has been candy for them!

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BobT
Posted (edited)

Interesting story I'll share. This past Friday was my brother-in-law's birthday so I invited him to join me on Lake Osakis to see if we could find some willing walleyes. We got on the water about 11:00 am and started out working along the 1/2 mile bar area when he got a fish on. Turned out to be a smallmouth and a big one at that. We've caught our share while jigging for walleyes and it is not uncommon for us to get them in the 22" range but this one was a bit bigger. I remember making a comment like, "Wow, what a hog smallie!" We figured it was likely about 24" and my brother-in-law figured it weighed about 9 lbs. Unfortunately, we didn't measure it or weight it. It straightened his jig hook and broke his line just as we landed it. At any rate we both agreed that it was the largest smallie we'd ever experienced and my nephew told his dad to bring it home to have a mount made. We didn't even measure it but just took a photo and released it. Didn't think anything else of it until later.

 

When we got home my nephew continued to badger us for not keeping it or at least measuring it. Just for fun we decided to check to see how heavy a 24" smallmouth would be by calculation so I searched online for a conversion calculator. The calculation for a 24" comes out to about 8.25 lbs. Then we did one more fatal search. We decided to see what the MN state record is and learned that it currently stands at 8 lbs - O oz, caught at Otter Tail Lake in 1948. At this point my brother-in-law's appearance became a bit green as we realized that he may have released a new state record unknowingly. How about them apples? 

 

I've attached a photo for your enjoyment. Notice, his arms are not outstretched to give the fish a larger appearance.

 

 

 

20190705_121308.jpg.png

Edited by BobT
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DonkeyHodey

Beautiful fish, Bob!

 

FWIW, I like the following (printed from a study from Michigan DNR) length/weight chart...

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/SMII_Assembled_Doc_2017_final_552610_7.pdf

 

It's pages and pages of scientific mumbo-jumbo:  BUT, if you can click to Chapter 17, pages 5-9, you'll find an awesome length/weight chart that is what I use to guage my fish (as this includes numerous sport but also non-game fish (burbot, redhorse, etc...), which can be hard to find...  )

 

(BTW, I like the fact the Michigan bass are probably more reflective of what I'll catch in Minnesota than a Texas bass growth/length/weight chart...)

 

By their measurements, a 24 inch smallie should be north of 7# but probably not 8 unless it was a big ol' fatty...  But don't fret; your fish is a trophy regardless!

('Course I'm pretty sure the fish I caught, unwitnessed and undocumented was bigger...😁)

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Wanderer

That’s a dandy BobT.  Good birthday gift for your BIL!

 

I agree with @DonkeyHodey, it’s all in the girth when they get over 20-21 inches.  My heaviest weighed on a scale went 7.5 lbs and was 22 inches.  It was the thickest smallie I’ve ever seen live.  I couldn’t believe the weight so I weighed it twice.

 

Plus camera angles just can’t always do a fish justice.  Me holding my fish made it look like a heavy 5.  It looked more for real when my brother held it.

C573CC9D-9DDF-4A49-82DA-06A4EF6F5AE1.thumb.jpeg.be1ba8875794941f86d29091ea9ddfeb.jpeg

 

Laying in the net on 22.5 inch bump board.

E541EA83-FC0E-4E49-8AFD-B73D4F4AE652.thumb.jpeg.b67a125b60e14a7e7dd3b0bff76a530e.jpeg

 

That one took my breath away; made me shake for a while.

 

Those toads will do that; congrats again!

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BobT
37 minutes ago, Wanderer said:

That’s a dandy BobT.  Good birthday gift for your BIL!

 

I agree with @DonkeyHodey, it’s all in the girth when they get over 20-21 inches.  My heaviest weighed on a scale went 7.5 lbs and was 22 inches.  It was the thickest smallie I’ve ever seen live.  I couldn’t believe the weight so I weighed it twice.

 

Plus camera angles just can’t always do a fish justice.  Me holding my fish made it look like a heavy 5.  It looked more for real when my brother held it.

C573CC9D-9DDF-4A49-82DA-06A4EF6F5AE1.thumb.jpeg.be1ba8875794941f86d29091ea9ddfeb.jpeg

 

Laying in the net on 22.5 inch bump board.

E541EA83-FC0E-4E49-8AFD-B73D4F4AE652.thumb.jpeg.b67a125b60e14a7e7dd3b0bff76a530e.jpeg

 

That one took my breath away; made me shake for a while.

 

Those toads will do that; congrats again!

That was a fat one! We don't know smallies so even if we had measured it, we would have released it just the same not realizing what we may have done. 

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Sofishticated

I use the bitsey bug jigs with good success.

 

My personal favorite is a rebel craw crankbait. 

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