Fishing Stories from Ned Kehde

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Copyright 1999-2001

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Submitted by Ned Kehde - May 18, 2001

Tips for catching the increasingly popular smallmouth
During the past three years the virtues of the smallmouth bass have
been extolled in this space with regularity. And since these acrobatic
creatures have begun to abide with escalating numbers in several waterways
along U.S. Highway 75, stretching from Holton to Yates Center, they have
caught the fancy of an increasing number of anglers. Meanwhile other anglers
recently have called, asking for a list of tackle that they need for
pursuing this noble fish.

Here are the rods and reels that several local smallmouth aficionados

For a rod, a six-foot, medium-action Billy Westmoreland Signature Series
Spinning Rod by Bass Pro Shops is ideal for handling all but the heaviest
spinnerbaits, crankbaits and topwater lures.

To accompany that spinning rod, a Lew's GSS30 spinning reel with three
extra spools is a durable and economical choice. The spools are filled with
six-, eight-, 10- and 12-pound clear Trilene XL monofilament. However, some
anglers prefer to use only one spool and fill it with 10-pound-test Berkley
Fireline or other brands of braided line.

To accommodate a big spinnerbait, a 1/2-ounce Rat-L-Trap and a Heddon Zara
Spook, an angler needs a baitcast outfit, such as a six-foot medium-action
Shakespeare Synergy rod and Garcia 5500C3 reel spooled with 12-pound Berkley
Big Game line.

Most smallmouth inhabit rocky lairs, but occasionally they become pelagic
and pursue gizzard shad. And the smallmouth at Coffey County Lake gambol
intermittently about the pondweed that grows on the shallow points and

Here are the lures that will entice the smallmouth in the rocks, weeds
and amongst the shad:

Day in, day out in eastern Kansas the best lure is a 1/16-ounce Gopher
Tackle mushroom jighead formed around a No. 2 hook and adorned with a
three-inch Berkley Power Grub. And when it's tied to eight-pound test, it
performs magnificently around rocky coverts.

Besides a Power Grub, a pearl, smoke or amber Bailey Magnet enticed scores
of smallmouth this spring, and it's quickly becoming a quintessential
finesse rig. Also a Power Tube affixed to a mushroom jighead is another
classic lure in these parts. Two other year-round staples are a black
1/8-ounce marabou jig and an 1/8-ounce Strike King Bitsy Bug Jig and small
trailer in a crayfish hue.

When the water temperature hovers in the 40s, a delicately twitched lure,
like a Rapala Husky Jerk or Smithwick Rogue, bewitches scads of smallmouth
and big ones to boot.

Once the water temperature climbs into the 50s, a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce
spinnerbait with No. 2 and No. 6 gold Indiana blades and short white skirt
becomes the lure of choice. After the spinnerbait's effectiveness peters
out in late April, it is replaced by a chartreuse Norman Deep Tiny N, which
remains effective into November.

From mid-spring into mid-autumn buzzbaits, Zara Spooks and Rapala
Skitter Pop periodically attract the smallmouth's attention -- especially in
Coffey's weeds. Throughout the summer a twin-tailed spider grub or 4-inch
plastic worm tantalizes lots of smallmouth.

By late summer and through early fall, a shad-colored or chartreuse
Rat-L-Trap seduces scores of smallmouth, as does a chartreuse 1/4-ounce
Worden's Rooster Tail, and the white spinnerbait becomes effective again.

At Coffey the smallmouth forage upon sunfish the size of a silver dollar
that regularly abide along the rip-rap shoreline. One of the best lures to
mimic theses sunfish is the Slo-Poke GrubMaster Jig made by Bait Rigs Tackle
Company of Madison, Wis. These lures also are excellent tools to search for
the smallmouth that wander away from the rocky havens to frolic in the
pondweeds or chase schools of gizzard.

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