Chasing June Smallmouth
By Bill Decoteau

Bass Cat and Mercury Outboard’s Bassmaster Elite Angler Seth Feider is known as a smallmouth expert, having honed his angling skills on Minnesota’s land of ten thousand lakes. Feider’s knowledge of Minnesota’s multi-species, their transitional movements, preferred habitat and seasonal forage base has allowed him to catapult his professional bass fishing career in a few short years.

“Average water temperatures in June usually range between 65-70 degrees. Anglers chasing smallmouth bass in June will find three stages of the spawn; pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn all occurring on most bodies of water,” suggest Feider. Anglers need to cover water, monitoring water-depth with a keen-eye looking for beds, cruising bass and isolated big boulders. Targeting large hard bottom flat areas covered with sand and rocks. Feider concentrates along 6-8 foot depths where contours have sudden drop-offs into 20 feet.

Several key factors play into an angler’s success during the month of June. “It’s imperative to make a long cast and to follow the contour line. The edge along the sudden drop-off becomes a roadway for cruising bass and these bass are always spooky, especially in clear water. Long cast not only covers water faster, it also keeps your bait ahead of you. Remember the eyes on a bass are on top of their heads looking up, they always see you before you see them,” instructs Feider.

With smallmouth bass engaging in three stages of the spawn, Feider’s arsenal includes three baits with three different techniques. “Smallmouth bass are extremely visual and curious feeders, including those on beds. Topwater baits are excellent for covering water, making long casts, locating bedding smallmouth and enticing suspending post spawn smallmouths. My topwater bait of choice is a Storm Arashi Top Walker, it’s a small bait with three hooks ... and I fish it very fast!”

Feider utilizes his Top Walker bait to start his day on the water. As he continues his search along the sloping contour Feider’s second choice in baits just might surprise most bass anglers? “Pre-spawn and post-spawn smallmouth bass, especially the cruising smallmouths require a stealth approach with non-intrusive finesse size baits. This is where I incorporate swimming a Black VMC 1/8 oz. Dominator Marabou jig.”

The Team Diawa Elite Series Pro mounts a Steez spinning reel spooled with 6 lb. Suffix 832 Lo-Vis green braid paired with a six-foot Suffix 6-8 lb. green fluorocarbon leader, onto a 7’ Medium-light Steez spinning rod. “The 5.6:1 gear ratio on the Steez spinning reel allows me to swim my Marabou jig with a slow steady retrieve. While the small diameter braid extends my casting distance,” says Feider. Adding, “Once my jig hits the water I begin my slow steady retrieve. Basically, I retrieve the jig the same as I would a single tail grub.”

When it comes to hook-sets with light line and tackle Seth Feider is adamant on employing the hook-set by utilizing his rod and reel. “Smallmouth bass will skyrocket vertical if you apply hard hook-sets. Plus, with light-line you are more apt to have a break-off losing both your jig and the smallmouth. First set your reels drag system for a smooth side sweeping hook-set’ allowing your rods parabolic action to apply the pressure for the hook-set. When smallmouth take your bait they will swim off, this is when the ultra-sharp hook will penetrate and secure your hook-set. Once hooked let your rod and reel exhaust the smallmouth before landing it.... Patience is very important at this stage.”

Targeting isolated big boulders in 15-20 foot depths Feider turns to a drop-shot for his third technique. “Big boulders are magnets for big smallmouth bass! I’ll nose hook an Erie Darter or small Diawa TD swimbait on a VMC Sure Set Hook, clip a 1/2 oz. VMC tungsten drop-shot weight on and then work all sides of the boulder.”

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God Bless and Best Bassin’

Billy “Hawkeye” Decoteau is an outdoor journalist with a strong passion for pursuing the Black Bass. His activities include; emceeing The Bass University weekend educational seminar programs, as well as emceeing benefit tournaments such as Maine’s Annual May Special Olympics Team Tournament, Fishing For Freedom, and working with the USO.

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