Today in Smallmouth Magazine – Volume 1 Issue 11 we continue with the first year of the Smallmouth Newsletters. Published in November, 1985, this issue features six pages of information for anglers to catch smallies as winter moves in.
The issue starts out with another great piece by the late Billy Westmorland on how to catch smallies in November. As usual, Westmorland gives some sound advice on the tactics and techniques he uses for late fall/early winter smallmouths – long rock points with access to deep water. He attacks the points from shallow water, casting out to deeper water with his trademark Silver Buddy, a Hoss Fly-n-Rind, or a Road Runner underspin. I bet if Westmorland was still alive, he’d have the Ned rig tied on too.
In the deep clear water of Dale Hollow, he stresses that the angler needs to sneak up on the fish, even if they’re in 25 feet of water. He’ll then place his boat in eight to 10 feet of water and cast out to deeper off the point. If that doesn’t work, move the boat further off the point and cast deeper until you find the fish.
Westmorland was a stickler about using light line for these tactics recommending 6-pound for the jig and Road Runner and 8-pound for the Silver Buddy. This was written in the mid-80s, when most anglers thought light line was 10-pound test. Westmorland had been preaching the use of light lines since the early 1970s.
As a caveat, Westmorland also mentioned a line I’d heard of but never used, Williamson Bear Cat monofilament. I have one of their patches from the early 70s but had no idea they were still making line at this time.
In my opinion, the best piece in the six-page newsletter is on the second page – titled, “The Ultimate Trip!” In this piece, Frank Brooks (author) talks about a “trip of a lifetime” by J. C. Reel and partner on Watts Bar. That one perfect day, on October 30, 1984, yielded seven fish that pushed the scales past 36 pounds with 6-08 and 8-04 fish topping the stringer.
Although Reel said he caught the big fish on a jig tipped with shad, he did mention a homemade jig made out of a piece of Phentex 3-ply yarn. Just to satisfy my curiosity I Googled Phentex 3-ply yarn and low and behold, it’s still made. If you have a hankering for making some of these jigs, head on down to Jo-ann Stores. They sell it for about $4 per 164 yard skein.
Page 3 has a piece authored by Zebco on catch and release, in keeping with Smallmouth’s conservation motif. The article is formatted as a Q&A between the company and The Bass Professor, Doug Hannon. Hannon stresses that anglers need to stop using nets and lip their fish, saying that the net removes the slime coating of the fish as well as splitting fins, both which can lead to infections. He also stresses the use of a new antibacterial additive anglers can place in their livewells that promotes slime generation and disinfects the fish. The new product made by Jungle Laboratories, was called Catch and Release, the first commercially available livewell additive.
In keeping with the environmental theme, page 4 had a piece on the invasive Rusty Crayfish that was wreaking havoc in Illinois waters. Evidently the crawfish had already destroyed prime walleye waters in Wisconsin and was now found in the waters of the Land of Lincoln. The crayfish had a penchant for destroying aquatic vegetation as well as ruining spawning areas.
Also on page 4 was a cold-weather clothing article. I remember fishing winters back in the day and the use of multiple layers was just taking hold. Comparing the 1980s clothing to today’s, this is one area of bass fishing where I welcome the new technology.
The fifth page of the newsletter has a piece by Jeff Howard on northern tier smallie fishing in the fall. I wasn’t too impressed with this piece due to the fact it concentrated on bait fishing and I wonder how many of the readers back then felt the same way as I do. To add to that, the article just doesn’t have much meat to it compared to Westmorland’s lead-in article.
Next is a piece by Bob Gooch on fishing smallmouths in Hawaii. Again, other than the fact that Hawaii sports a smallie fishery, I wonder how many anglers would travel to the Island state to fish them.
The last page really brought some memories back with a short promotional piece on the Kwik Kick. Any of you serious angler who fished the 80s know what I’m talking about – that swingable arm you’d attach your trolling motor pedal to that would allow you to move it from port to starboard with just a kick of the foot.
For those too young to remember, these were the days when bass anglers didn’t mount the trolling motor to the deck of the boat but left it free so you could move it to whatever side of the boat you were fishing off of. Problem with that was without the foot pedal being mounted, it had a tendency to break things if you ran into rough water. The Kwik Kick promised to solve that conundrum.
The final part of the last page was dedicated to Letters to the Editor – of which all of them were asking Tom Rodgers to sign them up for the Smallmouth Newsletter – and fast.
As with all the other issues to date, this newsletter is definitely worth the read for anyone interested in smallie fishing or the history of the sport. Below we’ve published all pages for you to read and look back into the past. We hope you enjoy it.