Drift with the wind or use a bow-mount motor to work the rocky shorelines around Lake Erie’s South Bass Island for five-pound-plus smallmouths this month. Use long sweeps of your rod to impart shiner-imitating movement to floating and diving baits in water as deep as 15 feet. Smallmouths will often rocket from those depths to smash lures that may be less than a foot under the surface. According to local bass expert Jeff Snyder, favorite baits include ReefRunner RipSticks, Bomber Long A’s and Storm ThunderSticks. Any shallow area salted with granite boulders or strewn with limestone will hold hungry pre- to post-spawn bronzebacks, but Snyder’s favorite stretch is in the shadow of the lofty Perry’s Victory Monument on South Bass Island. If the smallies are holding deeper, the “drift-and-drag” technique developed by Snyder has been known to tease smallmouths from water as deep as 30 feet. Allow your boat to drift with the breeze over rock or gravel points while bouncing brown- or green-colored tube baits along the bottom. Depending on water depth and boat speed, the weight of your jigs will vary from 1/4- to 3/4-ounce. Drag a drift sock (or five-gallon bucket) off the bow to slow down the boat if the wind is blowing hard enough to push you faster than 4 mph. Located three miles due north of Catawba Peninsula, South Bass is the southernmost island in the three-islet Bass Island chain. Anglers with an eye to the weather and experience in open water can drive their own boats over to the island or you can drive your trailered rigs onto the ferry that trades between the tip of Catawba and the island several times a day. Contact: Ottawa County Visitors Bureau (800-441-1271); Jeff Snyder (330-830-2277).
South Bass Island