Finding Big Smallmouth Bass In Big Water

The Great Lakes have become amazing smallmouth bass fisheries but sometimes finding big smallmouth bass in big water can be a challenge. These lakes are so vast, its hard to know where to start at times other than the spawn.

The first time I went to Lake Erie to fish, I went with a guide because if I’m going to have limited time to fish, I wanted to make my time there as productive as possible.

Finding Big Smallies in Big Water

Erie’s floor, especially the eastern basin, is littered with countless rises and humps, or shoals, where the contour breaks are mostly gradual, especially a mile or so offshore as we were. Some of the rises are sprawling, while others are tiny in comparison, but seemingly all of them hold fish.

Finding those areas isn’t difficult given today’s GPS mapping technology. Figuring out where the actively feeding fish are holding on said structure is the challenge, though.

When we’d pull up on a hump where he saw arches on his sonar, Griffin was sure to not sit on top of the rise, but off to one side, or the front or back. Boat positioning on a vast body of water can actually make a huge difference even when using a predominantly vertical presentation.

That smallmouth tend to hold on these offshore stopping points is something he says is prevalent mainly on the Great Lakes.

“What I’ve found is that the more active or smaller fish tend to be on the front side of the shoal,” he said, “while the more lazy and sometimes bigger fish hang out on the back side of the hump. They’re just sitting there waiting for something to float by.”

His theory held true in the morning as his two biggest catches came off the backside of a hump in 25 to 28 feet of water. Source

If you are beginning to learn how to fish Erie or any of the larger lakes with deep water, look for the humps and get your bait down to the bottom where the fish are holding. Sometimes finding big smallies in big water can be a challenge. Of course catching them can be a challenge too!

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