Wintertime perfect to go ‘bobber fishin’ for smallmouths

Published 4:30pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Waiting to let your line stretch out behind you is very difficult for the average bass fisherman to learn, since much of the time the casting motion they use is a rather short, quick motion.
After getting the hang of the cast, you can get to the point where your float will land the correct distance from your target, and the jig will land at your target and pendulum down under the float.
Your float will lie on its side until the jig is straight under the float; then it will “stand up.” If your float doesn’t’ stand up, you know you cast too shallow and need to pull the rig toward you and let it resettle.
I went to Dale Hollow lake in Tennessee in the mid 90s just to learn to bobber fish. Any serious wintertime smallmouth fisherman or woman must make the trip there. On my first day, me and my guide had 14 fish on, 11 of which were nice smallmouths. I’m not going to say how many I let get off, but to get that many bites was an extra bonus in my efforts to learn the technique.
“Always keep your jig moving” he said. “Don’t ever just let it sit there.” That lesson still echoes in my head when I’m fishing the bobber, but over the years I’ve come to realize that a moving jig doesn’t always mean a moving rod.
After your cast has settled, start pulling your rod toward you,  similar to dragging a Carolina rig, and give your rod slight tugs as you do. Your bobber will “dance a jig” on the surface. Slow is the name of the game,  though. After pulling the bait toward you, let your rod back down and reel up some slack but not too much. As you are doing this your jig, which has drifted up some as you pulled it toward you, is slowly sinking down to a vertical position under your float.
If you are fishing good and slow, this will only take a second or two, if you are a little too fast, a bit longer. Either way the jig is still moving although your rod is not. It’s important to let your bobber stand back up after each pull or drag. If not you will have the jig much higher in the water column by the time you get back to the boat. And when you are fishing for cold, lethargic smallies, you want that lure to be as close to them as possible. They are not going to travel too far in 40 degree water temps.
The wind or current can also play a factor in moving the bait. The chop on the surface can cause your jig to quiver almost in place. If the bite is really tough, this is a good technique to try. You might not put a lot of fish in the boat doing this extremely slow method, but some is better than none.

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