There's Bronze in Our Streams

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Published on: May. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 5, 2010

resist--a crawdad. The lure is a brown, 1/8-ounce, rubber skirted jig tipped with a small brown pork frog.

Fished around weed beds, rocks and logs near current, it stands alone. Adding a rattle and some crawdad scent to the lure bolsters its effectiveness. Just cast or flip the lure upstream past any of the cover that I have mentioned and let it sink to the bottom.

Work it back to you in short hops. If you feel a slight peck or any resistance at all, set the hook. It takes a lot of concentration and patience to successfully fish this lure but it's worth it.

Another way to fish this lure is called the "pump style." I have never seen any of the TV fishing celebrities fish a jig-n-pig in this manner. It's a little like buzzing a spinnerbait just under the surface of the water. In basically the same manner, you fish a jig-n-pig just under the surface in short pumping strokes. I think that bass strike the lure so savagely because they mistake it for a fleeing crawdad.

Another easy and productive lure to fish in creeks and small streams is a 1/4-ounce chartreuse or chartreuse and white buzzbait with a white, 3- inch grub trailer. You can sling this lure anywhere--upstream, downstream, across stream--it really doesn't matter. It is such an aggravating, agitating presence to the fish that they try to kill it rather than eat it.

I have seen fish dart from 20 feet away and savagely knock the lure a foot out of the water. The only draw-back to fishing a buzzbait is the lure's low hooking percentage. You'll tend to miss a lot of fish.

To improve your catch ratio percentage dramatically, use self-control. When you see the strike, wait. If you set the hook too soon you'll pull the lure right out of the fish's mouth. Wait until you feel the fish, then cross his eyes.

Another trick is to carry a back-up rod and reel rigged with--you guessed it--a jig-n-pig. I stick my backup rod and reel handle down inside my belt from behind with the tip sticking straight up in the air. It's out of the way and both my hands are free. You may look like a porcupine, but who cares--we're talking big bass.

Immediately after missing a strike on a buzzbait, set your rod and reel down, grab your backup rod and cast your jig-n-pig into the exact spot where you missed the fish. The smallmouth will almost always take the offering.

You also can catch stream smallmouth on a Carolina-rigged Rapala. Tie a 2-inch black and silver floating Rapala to one end of a 12- to 18-inch piece monofilament and tie a brass barrel swivel to the other. Thread a 1/4-ounce slip sinker up the main line and put a glass bead behind it before tying the line to the swivel.

I suggest you fish this rig in water deeper than 3 feet. Just cast it out and let it sink to the bottom. The floating Rapala will suspend a bit. Twitch it a few times. The strike should occur on the second or third twitch. I love to fish this rig in deep holes at the end of riffles with large rocks.

I would like to stress the importance of catch and release on the magnificent, battling bronze beauties that nature has so generously given to us. If we deplete the smallmouth bass in our moving waters today, we'll all be fishing for carp and gar tomorrow. Have fun catching them; but let them go. It's up to us.

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