Flappin Jig - 3 lbs 14 oz - basically a "4 Pounder" at 16.5" with a SIXTEEN INCH GIRTH!
Just when we thought our fishing season was over, the midwest gets a strange period of extremely warm weather for over a week in late October & early November. By this point, most of us are in the tree stand, thinking the peak of the chase phases of the rut is starting to rock and roll. After burning a vacation and seeing almost no deer all week, my good buddy Kevin and I decided to take out his boat one last time during the crazy warm weather on November 3rd. The weather had been stable at around 15 degrees above average, and the water temps were around 48-52 degrees - more typical for about the 2nd-3rd week of OCTOBER. We headed up to Rusk County in search of some Smallmouth Bass in their mid-fall transition, as they were working their way to their wintering holes. We brought our ice fishing flashers out, just in case the bass were super deep in their winter holes and a vertical ultra finesse presentation or drop shotting would be the only way to get them. We started shallow with top water lures, Lovertail 2s, and other fast moving lures. It was very clear that the shallow wood cover areas had been deserted, but we were marking tons of fish on our flashers in really deep water. We had no wind and a comfortable current that felt like a slow drift or troll, and we switched to deep water tactics that I learned on my guided trip from Dale Stroschein and Wacky Walleye Guide Service. I thought I snagged a small branch, I had felt the weirdest feeling ever on my Rick Clunn S-Glass rod, and here I reeled up about a 14" smallmouth to the boat. I was shocked, but also thought the bites would be rare and didn't get overly excited. When we finished our pass while staying on a consistent depth contour, I hooked into a very girthy bass that weighed 3 lbs 12 oz. I was pumped. I caught both of these lures on a soft plastic 4.8" swimbait that I hand poured in my driveway. I bit off about 1" of the lure to shorten it, dipped the tail in blood red garlic dye, and stuck it on a 1 oz VMC Mike Iaconelli Swim Jig head I bought on clearance at Fleet Farm a few years ago. As we started pass #3, I immediately stuck another smallmouth, and then Kevin decided it was time to go deep water as well. He changed it up though, he put on our James Gang Flappin' Jig, let the lure sink to the bottom in the deepest water in the lake, then retrieve it in a strange zig zag presentation that caused the jig to vibrate just above the bottom of the lake. He got into a really awesome fighter, and when he boated his bass, we were stunned. On the scale pretty much a 4 pounder (3 lbs 14 oz) with a ridiculous girth was hanging. We measured him at ONLY 16.5", this bass had a girth of SIXTEEN INCHES!!!! A super freak of nature with a giant gut!!! Not long after that fish was released, I caught a slightly longer 16.66" smallmouth that weighed in at 3 lb 13 oz, approaching a 16" girth as well. I was catching a few here and there, I believe only 2 weren't the 14" legal length minimum, a great average size and all of them fattened up for winter. I ended up with 7 bass at the boat, and later in the day Kevin hooked a MONSTER right under the boat. He peeled drag like crazy after a giant hook set but somehow worked his way off after a few seconds. My gut says 17-20" fish and by far the heaviest of the day. Not soon after a pike or musky hammered the Flappin Jig, broke his line, and ended his run. Amazing how much better I understand fish movement in the fall after a day in the boat with Dale Stroschein, and amazing how the weather timed out so perfectly to give us a great bite on a weather day that can't be beat. No wind, temp around 64 degrees, no other boats on the lake, and one of my most successful trips I ever had. The fish fought hard, all of them jumped, and they were fun to find on our ice fishing flashers, too. A great "BONUS" day to end the fishing season, but I hope the cold November weather rolls in fast and gets the chase phase of the deer rut to full speed so I can harvest a mature buck with my new bow that I have been practicing so much with. Enjoy the pics, the sun was really cooperating with us on some great color shots of these gorgeous smallmouths on my cheap phone camera. We intend on building a lot of Flappin' Jigs, Bass Jerkers, and Lovertail 2's for the WI Spring Sport Show in March. We had great results on them all year and we think that our first sport show will be a success!!!! This will be our last fishing report of 2016. Stay tuned for our short ice fishing season, the WI SPORT SHOW is coming fast and we will be focused on making lures once New Years Day arrives. We are off to the tree stands for the rest of the fall.
3 lb 13 oz Smallmouth at 16 2/3" and a 16" girth caught on a hand-poured swimbait
Jesse James is an avid fisherman that loves smallmouth bass fishing, loves spending time with his family, with other family-orientated people, and loves seeing children fish. A huge fan of BASSMASTER Elite Mike Iaconelli, like Mike, he is known to be a little strange, and obnoxious, but only to have fun and make people laugh.