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Spinnerbaits for Post-Spawn River Smallmouth Bass
By Mike Breeding

For those of you that have fished with me, it is no secret that my favorite way to target river smallmouths is with a spinnerbait. The reason for this is simple. Itís all about the fierce strike.

River smallmouth bass, especially the trophy-sized bass that swim in the Susquehanna River, explode on spinnerbaits with a vengeance. Inexperienced clients caught off guard literally have had their fishing rods ripped out of their hands. One bait can only withstand so much punishment before it snaps in two. Itís not uncommon for two clients and me to go through a dozen spinnerbaits in one outing.

I will start to target river smallmouths when water temperatures reach 52 degrees, but 55 degrees seems to be the magic number on the Susquehanna River. At 50 degrees, the first wave of the spawn has usually happened on the Susquehanna River, and the fish we refer to as the ďA-TeamĒ are in post-spawn. These fish will become inactive for a short period, then on put the feedbag again. At this point, they become very susceptible to a spinnerbait.

The baits we use are custom-built by Bigmouth Lures. The staple colors in my tackle bag are gold shiner, Penrod special, and blue herring. I use these in 3/8 and 1/2 ounce. I prefer a 7-foot medium-heavy power, fast-action rod for the 1/2-ounce baits and a 6 1/2-foot medium-power rod for the 3/8-ounce baits. I only fish spinnerbaits on bait-casting tackle with reels geared to 7:1 retrieve ratio. This allows me to burn these baits as the water warms. The line that I prefer is 17-pound Suffix monofilament in low-visibility green.

Where I will target smallmouth bass with spinnerbaits will be determined by water flow. In the beginning of the season when the water is usually running high, I target eddies on the shoreline and along the sides of large islands. As spring season progresses and the water levels drop, weed beds will begin to make their appearance on the Susquehanna River. These are submerged gravel bars that become ďsummer flow islandsĒ where you could even beach your boat and camp on. Behind these weed beds are drop-offs that become a perfect target for post-spawn smallmouth bass. The technique there is simple. Overcast your target and vary your retrieve until you get a strike. When this happens, take mental notes, make the proper adjustments, and the excitement will begin. Cloudy days, mornings, and evenings are best.

Fishing spinnerbaits is simple enough, but there are many subtle techniques that make them even more effective. Book a trip with us today for some hot spinnerbait action on the Susquehanna River from mid-April to mid-May, and I will be glad to show you how itís done. You can reach me on my mobile phone at 443-614-9842 or on our Web site, www.penrods guides.com.