Sand-Bar Smallmouth Bass
One of my favorite times to fish is in the fall for lunker smallmouth bass. A great lake for fall smallmouth is Kagawon Lake on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, now fishing sand bars will work well on most lakes and rivers. Now the north east end of the lake has a large sand bar area just south and to the west it drops off to much deeper water.
Sand bars are common in most lakes and rivers, but for the best results the ones adjacent to deep water produce great action. In most lakes, sand bars form along shorelines and areas facing prevailing winds, that is what you have on this lake. The sand bar runs for about 3 miles along the shore and runs out about half a mile till it drops off to much deeper water.
Sand bars are forgotten pieces of shallow structure on which large smallmouth bass gather. In the fall big lunker bass turn from sullen sulkers into voracious predetors stiking out at anything that comes into their range. The pressing urge to store energy for the long winter sends them on feading frenzies into shallow water areas they do not usually frequent during the day. They can not wait for the right light or time of day to make their move.
Fall smallmouth bass like to hold and feed over a hard smooth bottom that provides an unobstucted view of the surounding area. They use the scattered cover on these sand bars because it attracts schools of baitfish and small panfish, which they prey on. I have very often seen small groups of large smallmouth bass roving in 3 to 6 feet of open water between small patches of vegetation. Smallmouth are particularly vulnerable to angling in these open areas because they can detect your lures and bait from long distances and attack viciously. When there are two or more bass present, the largest very often will strike first with the others in close pursuite right up to the boat. A second lure worked just behind that first strike will very often give you that double-header.
These aggressive smallmouth can be fished fairly quickly with mid to shallow running lures. I have even had great luck fishing them with small jigs and live bait while drifting slowly along the sand bar, of course this is only appropriate with a good wind speed and direction to keep you on the sand bar. A spinnerbait is a good choice for working in and around the sparse cover on the sand bar and you are less likely to get foulded up. I like the 1/8 ounce size with 6 even 8 pound test line, because small spinnerbaits outfish the larger heavier sizes in the fall.
The spinnerbait color is important on some days. I have had good luck in stained water with a chartreuse Colorado blade, jig and twister tail. When smallmouth bass are aggressive this combination is deadly. When the bass are less energetic, lures that blend in with their surroundings seem more acceptable. When smallies are after crayfish in clear water, a copper blade and a brown to brownish-orange grub has a definate edge. Silver blades with smoke coloured grubs are good when the bass are feeding on minnows. Take a good variety of baits and lures to cover all conditions.
Varying the retrieve of these baits will produce more action, a steady retrieve back to the boat and then a lift and drop action on the next retrieve may produce better results. Other lures that work well on sand bar smallmouth are medium to small crankbaits, especially long narrow minnow imatators, and spinners. At the more heavily fished areas, a subtle twister-tail or tube jig can pay great dividends.
Most anglers often overlook sand bars and beeches because they see them as sterile structures without the usual rocky profile associated with smallmouth bass. Next fall, find yourself a nice sand bar with some vegetation or other sparce cover and you could have schools of lunker smallmouth bass all to yourself. Just get out there, enjoy nature and go fishing.
About the Author: Jack Phillips has been an avid Canadian angler for over 50 years. Fishing Canada provides solid advice for walleye, bass, pike, muskie, a variety of trout, arctic char bass fishing tips and more. Idea's on when and where to go on your next trip to Canada. Ice fishing tips. Delicious fish recipes also!