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Finessing Big Water Smallmouth with Gerald Swindle

The term â€big water†gets used a lot by bass anglers who do their best to find and catch smallmouth while bobbing atop 21 feet of fiberglass as they float across what looks more like the ocean than a lake.

The always-hilarious 2004 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Gerald Swindle did his best to give those that have never been to Lake Michigan’s Bays de Noc an understanding of how big this water really is.

“It’s so big at times that the waves inside my Triton’s livewell will be two feet tall,†Swindle said. “I’m planning to run about 25 miles to Big Bay de Noc, and even in a light wind, the waves are still so big I can only run about 10 mph.â€

Ironically though, it seems the biggest waters often call for bass fishing’s tiniest lures.

“You look behind you and you can’t see land it’s so big,†Swindle said. “That’s very intimidating.   Yet here I am going to battle with a deck full of Quantum spinning reels and 7-pound leaders. The bottom line is smallmouth love small lures, and typically they thrive in clearer water. So 90 percent of the time, you have to use finesse tackle to catch them.â€

Lures: Swindle favors the 4-inch Zoom Z Drop worm for drop shotting and perhaps the all-time most popular smallmouth lures— the tube.

Colors: “Shades of green always seem to be best, like green pumpkin with a little purple or gold fleck. I really like Zoom’s Seedless Watermelon and Green Weenie colors.â€

Rods and Reels: Swindle enters the final event of the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series season on Lake Michigan with numerous Size 30 spinning reels. The red one in the photo is a Quantum Catalyst PTi, the orange one is a Quantum Energy PT.

“The 30 size is about perfect in my opinion because it’s comfortable to hold all day and the spool is large enough to hold plenty of the 10-pound braid I use as my main line without creating twists or tangles.â€

Line: “I use 10-pound braid as my main line on the spool, but I tie it to a 7-pound Sunline fluorocarbon leader to create my drop shot.â€

Drop Shot Hooks and Weights: “I like a No. 1 Trokar hook for drop shotting and I rig one rod with a 1/4-ounce weight and the other with a 5/16-ounce weight for when the wind gets up or I’m over deeper water.â€