Drop Shotting Smallmouth Bass on the St Lawrence River
Rain, snow, high winds and low temperatures meant no other boats but lots of fish!
We recently hooked up with Rob Jackson (RJ) of RJnBirdees Outdoor Adventures for some early November smallmouth bass fishing on the St. Lawrence River. This was to be yet another new destination for Bill and I to fish and one we were quite excited to try. After launching around the Brockville, Ontario area we traveled up river looking for rock shoals, humps, current seams and any other irregularities that had the potential of holding fish.
Rock shoals in the thirty foot basin with peaks around 15 or 16 feet ended up being the most productive locations. As the smallies in this area feed predominantly on the huge amount of gobies in the waterway, we elected to use goby imitating soft plastics, like the 4.5 inch BPS Sassy Sally on drop shot rigs.
To cover more water and to give the bait a natural presentation in the current, we used a controlled downstream drift at about one mile per hour. A couple of the keys to successful drop shotting here include good boat control and having the sinker maintain contact with the bottom at all times. We programmed short tracks of about 100 yard long into our Terrova iPilot that crossed over target shoals and selected a track speed of 1.0 MPH to cover water at constant speed thus making bait management easier.
The iPilot did the rest and we were left to concentrate on bait presentation. Gobies are abundant in the St Lawrence and relate to the bottom, darting in and amongst the rock structures. They are not capable of sustained swimming in open water therefore it’s key to keep the drop shot weight ticking off the rocks on the bottom with the soft plastic running approximately 18 inches above it. No additional action (jigging, switching, etc) was imparted on the bait – strictly a controlled drift with the plastic paddle tail doing the work. Unlike the the sudden, obvious strike on a crankbait, the smallmouth bass take on a drop shot was very subtle. Any abnormality in the bait movement or the lack of bottom contact would usually indicate a take and a firm, sweeping hookset followed.
Many health fish in the four to five pound range were caught using this technique and we’re hoping to squeeze one more trip in before the end of the season.
If you’ve been thinking about trying smallie fishing on the St Lawrence River, give RJ a call. Just make sure your camera is fully charged – you’re gonna need it!
For more detail on fishing the St Lawrence, please tune in to The Fish Finders Season 1, Episode 9 on November 30.
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