Today in Smallmouth Magazine Volume 2 Number 8 we get back to the only magazine dedicated to them ole’ brown fish. This issue came out in August 1986 and featured four destination pieces with some filler pieces on smallmouth stocking, setting your drag, and a new rainsuit.
The issue starts off with a great review of Smokey Mountain smallie fishing, mainly on the North Carolina side of the range. H. Lea Lawrence covers all the area lakes such as Santeelah, Fontana, Chatuge, Hiwassee, Glenville, and several others. This isn’t an article that goes into a deep dive on any one particular lake but essentially hits the high points of each lake and what you can expect to catch.
As I live in east Tennessee now, and spent seven years in central North Carolina, I’ve heard of all these lakes and plan to make a trip to several of them at some point in time. Of course I’m sure the traffic on these lakes is a lot more than what it was in the mid-1980s but they still sound like they’re worth a try.
The next article was written by Smallmouth staff writer Tom Zenanko on border lake, Lake of the Woods. I remember reading about this lake as a kid and dreaming of fishing it someday. Today you don’t hear much about it as it is overshadowed by Lake Erie and many of the Great Lakes that host professional events. That or I’m just not reading the right magazines.
Zenanko reported having 50 fish days, which is impressive. Hot baits of the trip were Beetle Spins, crankbaits, and grubs. The size of the fish was a little disappointing, averaging 2- to 3-pounds with an occasional 3- to 5-pounder mixed in. Of course this is way before the introduction of the brown goby into the Great Lakes, which skews every northern anglers thought of good fishing these days.
Next on the parade of lakes was a piece written by Smallmouth publisher Tom Rodgers on Tennessee’s Norris Lake. During this time Norris was a smallmouth destination lake and provided a premier night fishing experience.
Rodgers was fishing with his longtime fishing buddy and Norris expert Harry Burden during a 4th of July getaway. Unfortunately for them, the water was down, the weather cold, and the fish turned off. In two nights they didn’t get bit.
Burden’s choice of night baits on Norris were a spinnerbait and a jig – two baits that are still the favorites on the lake for smallies to this day. Both the jig and spinnerbait were black and tipped with a #11 Uncle Josh pork frog.
To round the lakes out Smallmouth went all the way out west to California’s Lake Almanor. This body of water is still an unknown quantity, even to local Californians. Back in the 1980s it was well off the beaten path and still today it’s nowhere close to any major populated area. This is what probably makes it good.
At the time the lake was said to be the best place to catch a smallie in California over five pounds. The most productive baits were listed as the Gitzit (tube), Fat Raps, Big-Os, and plastic worms. I’m sure today the lake gets little pressure due to its location and most likely has a good population of smallies in it.
That about does it for this issue of Smallmouth. To read the entire newsletter, please see the gallery below. Click on the first image and use the arrows to scroll through the pages.