In the last installment of Smallmouth Magazine, we looked at the fourth issue of the second year of publication. Today in Smallmouth Magazine – Volume 2 Number 5, we continue on that track, bringing you the only magazine ever published dedicated to Micropterus Dolomieu.
Published in May 1986, this issue of Smallmouth Magazine was a bit sparse, even though it was six pages in length. This was due to two 2-page features and a report from the Arkansas Game and Fish Dept.
The first feature, written by Don Wirth, was all about smallmouth and topwater baits. It’s crazy to imagine this was a new concept back some 40 years ago but here you have it. Wirth goes into his techniques for fishing smallies on top, which differ a lot by today’s standards. In fact, Wirth opens up the conversation by saying not many anglers even consider topwater for the brown fish.
Wirth’s tactics suggest the use of a minnow lure like a Rapala and a buzzbait. He doesn’t give size recommendations for the Rapala but does recommend a 1/4-ounce buzzbait. This makes me think that he would recommend a smaller minnow lure like an F7 or F9 – in conjunction with the theories of Billy Westmorland and small baits.
Reading these old articles and theories really set anglers back in time, in my opinion. My entire childhood was spent believing that smallmouth only ate small offerings. It wasn’t until I moved to Idaho in 1993 that I discovered just how big a bait a smallmouth would eat.
Today, my favorite topwater bait for smallies is a full size, three-hook, Heddon Super Spook. I have caught smallies from 2 pounds on up and over 5pounds on that bait and when they eat it, they generally crush it. I’ve also caught smallmouth on swimbaits in the 6- to 8-inch class. So much for the small bait theory.
One thing about Wirth’s article is it really does give sound advice where to target topwater smallies. Wirth’s recommendation to throw to deeper water off banks and long points is rather groundbreaking for the time. Of course this all has to do with water clarity and the ability for the fish to see the bait, but in the waters he’s talking about, clarity was generally in the 5- to 20-foot range.
The second piece was written by longtime fishing writer Soc Clay on the introduction of smallies into eastern Kentucky reservoirs. The reservoirs of concern were found to be infertile and not good habitat for largemouth bass. They were also overrun with Kentucky spots. An analysis of ten lakes by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Game decided that the lakes could possibly be better suited for smallies, and therefore a stocking program was being introduced in 1985.
Looking at these lakes today, nearly all of them cite low populations of smallmouth bass along with poor to fair catch rates. It seems as if the experiment didn’t suffice to change the complexion of the lakes.
Also on page 3 was a short piece by Tom Rodgers on Hot Smallmouth Baits. Looking at the images in this short piece one sees what we’d today call the Shaky Head and a Slider Rig. Both worm rigs utilized a Charlie Brewer Slider worm but the weedless ballhead was produced by Larry Harpole of Kentucky. There isn’t much meat in this column other than the rigs themselves. Rodgers did recommend fishing the rigs on rocky banks and rip rap, standard hideouts for smallies.
Page 5 was a discussion on length limits for black bass by Michael Armstrong, fisheries biologist from Arkansas. In this article, Armstrong talks about the yin and yang of size limits and how they can either hurt a fishery or make it better. Each lake is its own biosphere and all living things within the waters have an effect on whether size limits will increase a population or not. It’s an interesting read filled with information I’d never considered before.
The final page of the newsletter is an update on a new sponsor for the rag, Pflueger, along with a column on the new California Tournament license requirement. The license requirement put in place by the California Department of Fish and Game (CADFG) would target all bass tournaments from club events up through major pro circuits. I remember this requirement taking place and what a pain the CADFG made it for a bass club or small local circuit to conduct events.
Not only did the CADFG require the license, they also monitored the number of events held on a body of water each month. As bass anglers living in a state that did not like bass, we felt the money spent on the licenses was essentially a rip-off. If the money collected would go back to the bass fishery, that would be one thing but none of the funds would go for the improvement of bass fishing.
Because of this order from the state, we as the collective body of bass anglers formed what became known as the Southern California Bass Council. Every club and tournament organization in the southern part of the state became members and took on the state to improve bass fishing. Unfortunately, the state didn’t care, and we were continuously met with deaf ears. Today the state and its bass fishery are in an even more precarious position with the statewide government trying to shut down fisheries from the coastal waters into the freshwater lakes and reservoirs.
That about ends it for this issue of Smallmouth Magazine. To read the entire newsletter, please see the gallery below. Click on the first image and use the arrows to scroll through the pages.