This episode takes place at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, two days after the Bass opener.
“To me, opening day is like New Year’s Day,” says Pete. “It’s full of resolutions and promises. In my case, it’s pretty simple: set the tone for the season right now. Go big or go home! Boating a five-pound-plus smallie or even one approaching six-pounds in the next day and a half, here, in this well-known Bass fishery, would set a benchmark for the rest of the season.”
The smallies he’s after should be just finished spawning, probably hungry, possibly somewhat belligerent, and therefore, hopefully, aggressive. If all this works out, Pete could be in for a heyday; and, the way the solunar science is lining up for the next 48 hours, boating a giant or two is very achievable.
This episode actually starts the evening before Pete’s trip out onto the lake. “I had a few hours of daylight left, so I figured I’d try to get a feel for the mainland fish so I could prep for the next day. I needed to have a plan for the big guys.”
Fishing near the city of Kingston, Ontario, he beat the shore pretty good, but could only come up with one nice smallie on a drop shot. His overall impression was that, in this area, the post-spawn period was done and the fish had dispersed into cooler, deeper water. Not what he was looking for. But, with the water being cooler out at “the Ducks”, conditions should be perfect.
MORNING OF THE DUCK
The time is 7 AM and Pete’s making his way from the town of Bath to the Main Duck Island. It’s a long ride, especially in the fog that’s sitting on top of the water. With Duck Island being so far away, Pete must put all of his confidence into his GPS unit.
Venturing out to Duck Island is pretty much an all-day commitment. Even on flat water the journey still seems like an eternity. And not being able to see your destination on the way out? That’s just plain freaky! Once here though, it’s game on!
“I’ve fished here before, so I know the topography. The southwest portion of the island presents a huge flat with a very gradual slope from shore. This is going to be a low-tech expedition: I have no waypoints in my GPS. All I have are my trusty polarized sunglasses which, by the way, are perfect for seeing into the gin-clear waters. I could also see that there were no fish close to the shore—too shallow and too warm.”
SETTING THE STAGE
Since the extreme shallows are a write-off, Pete begins his fishing about a hundred meters offshore, zigzagging parallel to the shore, casting in all directions. He’s primarily using spinnerbaits and jerkbaits for the aggressive fish, and the occasional tube and drop shot for the lethargic ones. Pete says, “I know they’re there because I can see the occasional cruiser highlighted against the pale rocks.”
“I popped fish here and there but nothing was looking consistent,” Pete recalls. “I’d get one on a spinnerbait and then it would go dry. I’d change to a jerkbait and get one, and then it would go dry… same with the tube and drop shot.”
After frantically searching for something different, he finally gets onto a pattern. Focusing on the dark spots (which were actually boulders with some algae on them), he gets two consecutive high-quality Smallmouth with a wacky-rigged Senko on a drop shot rig. These fish are very aggressive. This says a lot about the fish’s attitude and sets the stage for the rest of the day.
RAISING THE BAR
“With pretty much any drop shot bait, my set up is rigged about a foot above my sinker, which will stay in contact with the bottom while I gently flick the rod tip up and down to keep only the bait moving. A twelve-inch drop is a good starting point when drop-shotting, no matter where you are fishing.”
From then on, well… it was on! Pete proceeded to catch a bunch of fantastic smallies and had one of his best opening-week days ever.
“I’ve done what I set out to do,” boasts Pete. “I caught a bunch of great fish, boated my fiver and a giant, probably pushing six! This definitely raises the bar and sets the standard for the rest of Smallmouth Bass season.”
This could be a tough feat to surpass…