Guide John Blais
Location: Belgrade/Cobbosseecontee Lake, Maine
Credentials: Blais has been chasing smallmouth throughout Maine for over 20 years, both is still-water and the river systems. Boating 50 fish a day is common, and he’s led clients to his share of six-pound bronzebacks.
Number of years guiding: 7
Contact: (207) 872-9688; belgradebassin.com
Favorite Spinnerbait: War Eagle Double Willow
Color: Mouse/Nickel Blades
Weight: ½ oz.
Details: “I like War Eagles because you can really burn them. It almost seems like the faster you reel, the better they look. The water up here in Maine is really clear, so the fish tend to be spooky. I’ll have clients cast way past the area we’re targeting and get the blades moving right away. That way, the lure looks natural when it reaches the fish and the splash doesn’t scare them.”
Storm Wiggle Wort
Favorite Crankbait: Storm Original Wiggle Wart
Color: Phantom Brown Crayfish
Size: 2 in.
Weight: 3/8 oz.
Details: “Ninety-five percent of the smallmouths’ diet in my waters is crayfish. The Wiggle Wart looks a lot like a wounded crayfish if you work it correctly. If you’re retrieving a crankbait and feel it bump a rock or stump, stop reeling immediately. If it doesn’t get hit, start again with a slower cadence. This action mimics a wounded crayfish trying to escape. If you’re not deflecting the lure off structure, you won’t catch anything.”
Favorite Soft Plastic: Yamamoto Senko
Color: Black/Red Flake
Size: 5 in.
Details: “Dark-colored lures create great contrast in clear water. Senkos work particularly well in the post-spawn when you want big, suspending females. They’re also easy for novices to fish. I always fish a Senko whacky-style, but you want them to fall horizontally so they look natural. Too many anglers run the hook through the collar of the bait, but that’s not the center of the bait. Bend a Senko until the ends meet so you find the center and put the hook there.”
Favorite Jig: Bass Stalker Finesse Jig
Weight: ½ oz.
Details: “The concave, angled head on these jigs makes them sit upright on the bottom. If you match them with a pork trailer, they look just like a defensive crayfish. People don’t realize that jigs are very versatile. If I’m fishing one more traditionally, I just move the rod tip from ten o’clock to 12 o’clock to impart slight action. But sometimes I’ll just reel steadily and swim them. Both work as long as you maintain constant contact with the lure.