Got invited by my buddy RJ to fish opening day of a premier smallmouth lake at a private rod and gun club where he's a licensee. I've fished the lake about a half-dozen times in the past, but never on June 1 (opening day), when the fish haven't seen a lure since the previous fall. We met at 6 AM and there were already boats on the water that had been out since 4:30 AM. I knew a few of the anglers who were already out, real die-hards! I brought my go-to casting setup and typical lures ... Slider Head & 5" Yamamoto Flapping Hawg for deep, swim jigs and spinnerbaits for the first few feet of the water column, and plenty of topwater -- which is what I prefer to fish at this lake. There are smallmouth up to 22.5" in this lake, and typically in the early AM, the topwater bite is excellent.
The lake was about 3 feet higher than "normal", fairly murky (normally fairly clear), and in certain sections, loaded with curly-leaf pondweed. We started over some mid-lake humps, where RJ nailed an 18" smallmouth on his second cast with a #3 Mepp's Aglia with yellow dress. I worked the Flapping Hawg deep and as we drifted off the humps and towards shore, hit a fat 19" that initially felt like a snag and gave one hell of a fight! RJ liked my success with the Flapping Hawg, and switched to the Ned Rig, which was new to him. He had just picked up the mushroom-head jigs and Z-Man plastics at BPS the night before. He was using medium spinning gear with 8 lb fluoro and nailed fish after fish on the Ned Rig. It was just amazing to watch! He kept asking me if I wanted to switch to it, but I kept grinding it out with my lures. Finally, I took one of his plastics and rigged it weedless on a Slider Head. That definitely helped me put more fish in the boat!
We ended around 3 PM, having caught and released 52 smallmouth and 2 walleye. One of our good friends who had been out since earlier than us and had two guests in his boat finished around the same time having C&R'd 51, mostly smallmouth with a handful of walleye mixed in. We asked what they had success on and the answer did not surprise us ... Ned Rig.
Wow! What an outing. RJ gave me a schoolin' with his light / clear fluoro and the Ned Rig. I'll bet of the 54 fish we C&R'd, he caught 40 of them. It was amazing! But I didn't mind taking a back seat to fishing and being "net man" for most of the day. I still had a blast. The average smallmouth boated was in the 16"-17" range. We boated four @ 19". Of course I lost a monster smallie who skied and broke
my 20 lb mono!
A lot of fun had and some good lessons learned that I can apply to other places where I fish for smallmouth.
A big-shouldered 18" smallmouth
Here is more info on the Ned Rig if you want to add it to your arsenal...https://zmanfishing.com/cms/nedrig