How to Sight Fish Smallmouth Bass on the Great Lakes

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Pro bass angler Grae Buck challenges the belief that all smallmouth bass head for deep offshore structure during the summer and early fall months. While some certainly do, there’s often a targetable population of quality fish in shallow water. Buck delivers a comprehensive lesson on locating, catching, and patterning these bass using a mix of moving baits and a drop shot rig. *Featured product links below.

Sight fishing is a key tactic in the clear portions of the Great Lakes. Buck explains what types of bottom composition to look for and where to target your casts. Still, expansive flats mean that fish are usually spread out. He uses moving baits such as bladed jigs and lipless crankbaits to contact bass, then makes a note of the habitat. Buck always keeps a drop shot at the ready for pitching to bass he visually sees or good-looking habitat, such as the transitions between hard and soft bottom. Light and dark areas pop clearly to the eye with a good set of polarized glasses, and so do bass.

Once you spot bass, keep your eyes locked on and make pitches beyond the fish. He prefers perch or goby-colored plastics to match the natural forage and stresses the need to cast beyond the fish to avoid spooking them. Don’t overwork the bait. A subtle shake or straight retrieve across the bottom is all the action that’s required to trigger bites. Lastly, he details his go-to casting setup for search baits and drop shot spinning setup for driving hooks home and controlling powerful Great Lakes bronzebacks.

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