There are a few helpful ideas to utilize when you’re sight fishing for smallies that don’t even involve casting your line. To start, it’s smart to invest in a pair of high-quality, contrast boosting polarized glasses. The high contrast lenses will help to better identify structure and fish in the water. Also, when you’re using your trolling motor to maneuver your boat, try to use the slow setting rather than quick bursts of high thrust. Doing so will keep you from spooking fish. I also find that keeping the boat organized and free of clutter reduces the risk of you banging into things and making a lot of noise, which can also spook fish.
From your boat, you’ll want to cast search lures like spinnerbaits or shallow jerkbaits in a fan pattern. This will help you locate fish and entice any active smallies into striking. For early and late fishing, topwater lures work well here, as well. When you’re sight fishing, though, a main technique you’ll be using is finesse fishing. Tubes and jigs between 1/8 and 1/16 ounces are great, along with strop shot rigged stick baits or small creature baits. I’ve had great luck using an attractant with my baits when I’m sight fishing for smallmouth, too.
When you cast, try to land your lure several yards beyond your target. This way you don’t spook the fish with a sudden splash right in their face and also allow the bait to work up its action by the time it gets to the fish. Try to look for points, bars, and any structure that shoots out into deep water. Smallies tend to use these locations as routes for migration into shallow waters.
Finally, smallmouth are known for jumping and shaking during the fight, so make sure your hooks are sharp and you get a solid hookset on the strike. Keep tension on the line and try not to high stick the fish, as this will actually compel it jump more.
You’d be surprised at how successful one can be when sight fishing for smallies if they’re prepared. The tips mentioned today will start you off on the right foot when you find yourself hunting bronzebacks in shallow waters this season!