John's Journal...


The Crankbait for Smallmouth

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Longtime pro fisherman Roger Stegall of Iuka, Mississippi, has guided fishermen on Pickwick Lake on the Alabama/Mississippi/Tennessee border for over 17 years. Here's some of his tactics for catching big smallmouth during the month of November.

My first choice to fish for smallmouths is a crankbait. The smallmouth are very active in November, and they like medium-diving crankbaits. At this time of the year, smallmouth will find plenty of shad to feed on, so the gray ghost is my first choice of colors for my crankbait. The new gray ghost has red eyes, red on its sides and red hooks. The smallmouth will be following shad at this time of the year. You can fish the crankbait around the bank or underwater ledges or drop-offs. Secondary drop-offs, points and underwater road beds will also be where you will find the Click to enlargesmallmouth now. The reason I prefer a medium-diving crankbait is because the smallmouth will be holding in 4 to 8 foot of water in November, and these depths are where this bait performs best. The smallmouth usually prefer either a medium retrieve or a medium stop-and-go retrieve. The reason the stop-and-go retrieve is so important at this time of year is because I believe that the stop-and-go retrieve makes the bait look like a shad that's gotten away from the school of other shad and stops and looks, trying to decide where it should go next. Many times an isolated shad like this offers an easier meal to the smallmouth than a shad swimming with a school.

If cloud cover rolls in, I'll change colors. On cloudy, overcast and rainy days, I will be fishing the chartreuse with a powder-blue back crankbait. Click to enlargeChartreuse is a color that smallmouth like, especially on cloudy days. I've found that the smallmouth seem to like the contrasting colors that you get with the chartreuse-and-powder-blue-colored crankbait. I believe on cloudy days, the chartreuse looks like a bright light to the fish, and on cloudy days I've noticed that the shad look kind of like a bright light. I'm fishing these crankbaits on 10-pound-test Shakespeare Supreme Line and like several types of cranking reels.

My third favorite color crankbait for November smallmouth is the bream-colored crankbait. Although smallmouth prefer shad at this time of the year, they won't eat shad all day, every day. They like a variety in their diet, and on some days, they'll prefer bream. So if I can't catch the smallmouth on the gray ghost or the chartreuse with the powder blue back, I'll throw the perch/bream-colored crankbait that has bars on it to make it look like a bluegill. I like this color because it doesn't look like a shad. You have to remember that smallmouth, like other bass, don't always eat the same food every day. Often they'll feed on bream, even though shad may be the most-dominant food in the lake Click to enlargeand their favorite food. So anytime I'm going smallmouth fishing at this time of year, I always have three various colors of crankbaits with me, and I'll be fishing them in the places where smallmouths hang out. One of the reasons I like smallmouth fishing so much is because the smallmouth are extremely active and eager and anxious to chase a bait. If you use the color of crankbait that the smallmouth prefer on the day they want it, you can wear them out and catch good numbers and good sizes of smallmouth during November.

To fish with Roger Stegall at Pickwick lake, contact him at (662) 423-3869.

To learn more about fishing below the dam at Pickwick, contact the Hardin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at, call 731-925-8181 or 800-552-3866, or visit Pickwick Landing State Park offers fishing, boating, hiking, camping, swimming and golf. Lodging includes the lakeside inn with over 100 rooms, cabins that sleep eight and a campground that contains 48 sites with grill and electric/water hookup at each site. A restaurant at the park offers delicious southern cuisine. Call 731-689-3135 or 800-250-8615 to learn more.


Check back each day this week for more about HOW TO CATCH SMALLMOUTH NOW WITH ROGER STEGALL

Day 1 - The Crankbait for Smallmouth
Day 2 - New Redfish Magic - Perfect for Smallmouth
Day 3 - Buzzbaits in November Will Help You Catch Smallmouths
Day 4 - Jerkbaits for Smallmouths in the Fall
Day 5 - The Truth About the Quad Shad Spinner Bait


Entry 274, Day 1