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Please Visit Source Website, Click here!08/11/2005Print this Page  
A Spinnerbait Lesson

It was slow, embarrassingly slow. My buddy, who had recently returned from his summer job in Minneapolis, thought I had forgotten how to fish smallies on the Sheyenne River - a flow where just two months ago, fish from three to five pounds were being caught and released on a daily basis in my boat, and twenty-fish floats were the norm. My regular fishing buddy thankfully agreed with me, that summer can change a fish's mood. But we both figured it would speed things up, not slow them down.

The three of us cast jigs, tubes and soft plastics as we did all spring, but to no avail. With three bullheads and one six-inch smallmouth to show for the first hour, I grew frustrated. This was August, the time of plenty on the river. Young of the year fry, minnows, crayfish and bugs were everywhere, and predator fish should have been on the warpath. Why the fish wouldn't hit a juicy garlic-scented tube was beyond me, it had to taste better than anything under the surface at the very least.

Frustrated, I reached for something new. The idea of a fast-moving spinnerbait came to mind when I lifted my tackle box and heard the din of copper and hammered-nickel blades jingling away in a small side compartment.

Most of the models in my tackle box were 99-cent specials in various combinations and ages, some were four seasons old, others were bought at a Cabela's closeout last winter. None of them had been used very much, if at all. I think I had purchased most of them to fill up the spinnerbait box that came with my monster Plano tackle chest; most likely thinking if I'm not the complete angler, at least I would look like it.

I popped the top of the container, half expecting moths to fly out of it. I had done a nice job some months ago sorting the baits by color, dark on one end, light on another and colored in the middle. I figured with the dingy waters, something bright would be the key. I selected a white half-ounce model with a single Colorado blade and tied it on. To bulk up the profile I added a four-inch grub as a trailer and buzzed the bait about six inches under the water. The lure ran straight as we moved along the shoreline.

The first test came on a sharp bank that led directly into the channel of the river. I flipped the lure out, almost forgetting it wasn't a weedless-rigged tube, and plunked it in a patch of shoreline grass. I worked it loose and skittered it into the first three inches of water and began a slow retrieve.


I hauled back on the rod and set the hook. A twelve-inch fish rocketed to the surface like an ICBM out of a Russian submarine. "Back in business," I said to my fishing buddies as I unhooked the fat smallie.

We proceeded down the shore with the late summer sun as it sank behind the trees. The fish came quick for the buzz of the spinnerbait, its white skirt pulsing with each turn of the reel. I'd miss a small one here and there, but most of the fish were big enough to set the hook on, and by my tenth fish I was convinced that this was the lure of the season.

Finally, in Mack-truck fashion, a fish slammed my offering. The line ran toward the center of the river and went slack as the direction reversed and the fish bolted for the surface. Time seemed to stand still as a monster smallmouth exploded from the water. The fish, easily 18-inches in length, cleared the surface by twice its body length and sent the pearl and silver lure flying back toward the boat. As the bass splashed down, free of hook and line, I stood in awe and respect, primarily for the fish, but also for this unsung hero in my tacklebox. Straightening the bait's bent arm and mangled skirt, I readied it for the rest of the evening, and after a few more fish, I let it rest for the night.

The next evening we all had spinnerbaits on; white, chartreuse, two blades, one blade, grubs, trailers and the whole nine yards. I landed five smallies in about ten casts, but no monsters. In fact, most of the fish were healthy specimens around a pound-and-a-half. After the early barrage of aggressive fish, the action slowed. We approached the first bridge and drifted under it. The wind stopped, no cars passed overhead, and all was silent.


I heard that sweet song a reel makes when pushed to its limit as yards of line peeled off my buddy's reel. The rod pulsated with the might of a large fish at its end and the beast tailwalked around the back of the boat. Within moments, a 17-inch smallie was in the net; the chartreuse spinnerbait buried firmly in the corner of its mouth. My friend held the fish up with a smile on his face, as another spinnerbait believer was born. With my credibility restored, we cast on well into the evening singing the praises of our lures and learning the power these baits can have over aggressive summer smallmouth.

Though out of school now, I am constantly reminded that I should never stop learning. At work, in continuing education and with other projects, advancing one's knowledge is important. Certainly, based on my recent spinnerbait lessons, there's no better place to keep on learning...than our outdoors.

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