STURGEON BAY, Wisc. — Spawning smallmouth bass tend to be a little stupid. They’ll bite just about anything that slithers across their beds.
But on this crisp weekday morning, I was dueling with one that played hard to get. I could see him snub my tube jig each time I made a properly placed cast.
I looked at Dan Elsner, owner of Get Bit Baits, and shrugged.
“I’ve thrown in there with my tube three times,” I grumbled. “The fish noses down on it but won’t hit it.”
Of course, that’s nothing new. Elsner, an avid bass angler who live near this fabulous fishery, had been out-fishing me 4-1.
But this fish was driving me crazy.
And then I remembered: I was fishing one of his 3 ½-inch tubes; he was using one of the same color, but it was only 2½ inches long.
Could size be the difference?
“Throw your smaller version in there and see what happens,” I told him.
His tube hit the water and the 3-pound smallie engulfed it.
Elsner unhooked the fish, released it to swim back to the bed, and smiled.
“Told ya,” he said. “Early in the season, the bass here at Sturgeon Bay seem to prefer the shorter tubes. Once the water warms the bigger tubes come into play.”
I dug into his tackle box, tied on the smaller tube like he was using and proceeded to match him fish-for-fish.
That’s one of the many things I love about fishing; no matter how many years you fish, there’s always something you can learn from others.
The standard size tubes always have worked well on smallmouth for me, but that experiment showed that downsizing can make a difference.
So can jig head sizes. We were using 1/8-ounce jigs that were inserted into the cavity of the bait. The shorter-shanked 1/0 jig heads he uses on shorter tubes snagged in the rocks far less than my preferred 3/16-ounce jig heads with 2/0 and 3/0 hooks.