Pro: Bobby Gentry
Home Water: Dale Hollow Lake, Kentucky
Credentials: Gentry has been smallmouth fishing on Dale Hollow Lake for over 30 years and guiding full-time there for more than a decade.
Gentry says that anglers spend too much time looking for prespawn bass in areas where they think they should be, instead of using their electronics to pinpoint exactly where they’re holding. “When the days get longer, my sonar is a primary tool. I use it to look for fish in the ditch lines that run through or close to the spawning flats,” he says. “That’s where the fish are going to stage, so I won’t waste time elsewhere.”
First, Gentry identifies mudflats that are prime smallmouth spawning areas using a lake contour map or Google Earth. The soft substrate is also a favorite of the crawfish and shad smallmouths are feeding on heavily this time of year. The trick, he says, on a body of water you don’t know well is to identify where deep water meets those mudflats. “Then I’ll look for the ditch lines that channel fish from the depths to the shallows. Smallmouths spawn in 10 to 15 feet of water, unlike largemouths that will spawn much shallower. Any deeper ditch lines within that depth range are prime territory to find some prespawn trophies.” Gentry’s top lure choice is a Reaction Innovations Little Dipper swimbait in White Trash, matched with a 1⁄4-ounce minnow-shaped leadhead. He’ll also use crankbaits in crawfish patterns if he needs to cover more water.
Photograph by Brian Grossenbacher