Jackson: Catching the fish du jour -- smallmouth bass

Updated 4/5/2018 5:12 PM

There are plenty of anglers like myself that may be willing to invest the time chasing smallmouth bass.

In this area, we have what is turning out to be a burgeoning trophy smallie base right in Lake Michigan. But the down side is a lack of sustainable forage that smallmouth can feast upon unlike the goby picnic supplies in Indiana.


We may have had smallmouth schools prancing around in the big lake for decades, but we didn't know about the bounty. If anyone was aware, clearly some hotshots kept the fishery a great big secret.

But smallmouth bass have long been a preferred target in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Mike Mladnick, a carpenter from Lyons, took his act to Crivitz, Wis., and has made a living guiding Chicago-area fishermen to smallmouth spots on the infamous Menomonee River, which slides through Wisconsin and Michigan landfalls.

I fished that river as a kid but never caught anything as big while in Mike's boat. My heaviest smallmouth went over 6 pounds.

And there are quite a few other spots offering trophy smallmouth angling, such as Door County, Wis., where smallies compete for forage with muskies and walleye. Gill's Rock is a major example (at the tip of Door County) for fish running over 6 pounds. Little Sturgeon Bay is another hot spot on the south end of the inside territory of Brown and Door counties.

Two favorite spots for those who really enjoy battles with big smallmouth bass are Big Green Lake in Central Wisconsin and Mile Lacs in central Minnesota.

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Greg Dickson, owner of Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch, trailers his boat to the upper reaches on the Door County peninsula to chase fish close to 7 pounds and up. His tournament partner, Jim Schneider, won one event with a bass weighing in at 8.45 pounds! Dickson is a schooled fan of using silver tube jigs for these fish.

Going back to Lake Michigan, I will share with you where you may be able to score some decent fish.

Just over the Indiana-Illinois state line, look for rock piles about 50-75 feet from shore. Some anglers have used suspending ½-oz. Rat-L-Traps as well as tubes and Little Action Mac pre-rigged plastic worms.

Look for possible action right outside Diversey Harbor along the rocky shoreline. The same may hold true outside Belmont Harbor and Montrose Harbor.

I am told the reason for the shallow-water gatherings is because of an abundance of forage, including crawfish as well as gobys. But schools of goby aren't always in the same spots on successive days.

If you have some good pictures of big smallmouth bass, please email them to me for inclusion in this column.

• You can contact Mike Jackson at angler88@comcast.net, and catch his radio show 7-9 a.m. Sundays on WGCO 1590- AM, (live-streamed at www.1590WCGO.com).

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