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The fundamental livebait rig consists of a slipsinker sliding on the main line, followed by a snell consisting of a swivel, length of line, and hook. Most snells range from about 3 to 5 feet.
Walking baits, poppers, propeller baits and minnowbaits twitched on top shine on rivers during the summer months. Much of the habitat is shallow and snaggy, and topwaters keep you fishing without hang-ups. Topwaters have magic appeal for river smallmouths in warm water, too. Work them, then pause and let the current carry them over another likely spot.
Within a specific range of sizes and actions, plastic worms are the most versatile and most effective tools to use for smallmouths in lakes. The right worm is 4 to 5 inches long and relatively thin.
Reservoir smallmouths often congregate close to shore along riprap and rocky breaks into deeper water during early spring. The rocky shallows warm early, drawing bait.
Smallmouths often suspend over relatively deep water in reservoirs and natural lakes in summer, when baitfish populations peak. In reservoirs, they tend to follow shad or shiners. A 4- to 5-inch grub worked horizontally on a jig head can work wonders.
Spring means high water in most areas, due to snowmelt and high annual rainfall. And spring means movement for river bass. A plunge-pool below a dam is a classic wintering site. As water temperatures broach 50oF, smallmouths begin to wander downstream from a dam or upstream from a reservoir, toward spawning areas.
Winter is a fantastic time to catch big lake trout through the ice. This type of fishing often requires mobility as it can take quite a bit of searching to find active lakers. They can roam main-lake basins where they suspend in the water column to feed on open-water baitfish.