5 Tips to Catch Late Season Smallmouth Bass

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Here are 5 components to Frost’s game plan for catching big Lake Erie smallmouth in the late fall.

  • Fish deep points
  • Find gravel
  • Zoom in
  • Use tubes
  • Try spoons

1. Deep points

On Lake Erie, rocky points between 30 and 45 foot consistently hold smallmouth bass from mid October into November. Points appeal to smallmouth as they create a current break.

Massive in size, points are also feeding stations, loaded with gobies, crayfish and baitfish. Bass hunker down, waiting for food to wash up to them.

Late fall and early winter are some of the best times to catch giant smallmouth bass from Lake Erie. Fishing tubes and jigging spoons around deep rock and gravel points in 30 to 45 foot of water is a reliable approach for hooking smallies just before ice.

2. Find gravel

Big smallmouth like gravel and sand. Frost uses Humminbird 1100 series and Onix 8 units’ Side Imaging and 360 Imaging to locate bottom composition changes along rocky points. These transitions stack-up big bronzebacks.

3. Zoom in

Using 2D sonar’s also important for finding big smallmouth. Frost uses zoom to magnify the bottom.

“Even though bass are schooled up, the really big ones are belly to bottom,” Frost said. “Occasionally they’ll come up, but 99 percent of the time they’re right on bottom. You’ve got to have good electronics to find them.”

4. Start with tubes

A 3 1/2-inch tube jig consistently catches fall smallmouth. Smoke and dark green tubes are best to match gobies, crayfish and baitfish on Erie. Rigging on 1/2- to 3/4-ounce Frostbite Fishing Tackle jigheads gives the tubes a fast fall to get smallmouths’ attention. It also keeps the bait on bottom so bass don’t have to chase the meal.

“I never want bait leaving bottom,” Frost said. “The slower you can move it, the more fish you’re going to catch. Even when it’s dead calm, and I’m casting and reeling back to boat, I’m constantly keeping bottom contact with it.”

 

Frost uses a 7-foot, 2-inch Shimano Crucial or 7-foot Zodias medium-action spinning rod for cushion and control over tenacious smallmouth. The smooth drag of a Shimano 2500 CI4+ prevents 5-pound braid from breaking, even when battling 7-pound bronzebacks and incidental giant lake trout catches over 20 pounds.

5. Then try jigging spoons

When smallies snub tubes, Frost uses a jigging spoon to trigger reaction strikes. Top picks are a Bass Pro Shops XPS Tungsten jigging spoon or an ACME Kastmaster in gold or silver. A 3/4-ounce model works best in that deep water.

Like a jig, Frost casts a spoon in calm conditions. When windy, he drift-jigs; a 1-ounce spoon’s often needed to stay vertical.

A quick rod rip lifts the spoon a foot or two off bottom. Then the bait’s allowed to fall on slack line and settle on bottom.

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