Emergency Smallmouth Bass Baits

When space is limited, what is the best bait selection to take a long? Here’s the answer.

Nestor Falls, Ontario-based angler Jon Beaushene grew up with access to hundreds (even thousands) of the world’s best smallmouth bass lakes—many only accessible by plane.

For Jon, not a problem.

As the son of Nestor Falls Fly-In Outposts proprietor Dave Beaushene, Jon’s youth was spent sitting co-pilot to dad. Instead of throwing a pigskin in the backyard, they’d jump into a Super Cub and head into a veritable Disneyworld of bronzeback goodness.

Years later, Jon now has his own pilot’s license but spends most of his time fishing tournaments throughout Canada and the U.S. In fact, the UV Tightlines/Jewel Baits pro spends winters casting co-angler to many of FLW’s top pros, with dreams of fishing the big leagues himself.

From what I experienced on the water, shouldn’t be long before the kid goes legit.

Recently, following an evening on multiple-muskies-per-day Kay Lake, I asked Jon to list his “must-have” “emergency kit” smallmouth bass baits.

My arms and shoulders still sore from a day of muskie and smallmouth mayhem, I attempted to take notes while I shoveled lumberjack forkfuls of golden-fried walleye, backstrap beans and potatoes into my pie-hole. My notebook is still grease-stained and crumby.

Thank goodness for voice recorders.

“Visiting anglers either bring too much, too little, or the wrong kind of tackle on fly-in trips,” said the young Beaushene.

He explained it’s critical to pack wisely, as weight limits are often enforced depending on the aircraft type and number of passengers.

Bush pilot Mike Gate joked, “Plus, too much tackle and you’ll be leaving beer on the dock.”

As the laughter subsided and we all went through ad-hoc buffet line again, Jon began to talk with such zeal and knowledge on the subject of tackle that by evening’s end he had earned a new nickname.

My dear readers: Meet “Lure Freak.”

“Okay, give us your top 10 smallmouth baits,” I pleaded.

What follows is an abridged list. History lessons, copious big fish anecdotes and bad jokes omitted.

  1. Topwaters: “Definitely gotta have some topwaters in your box,” says Beaushane. “A Rebel Pop-R is definitely hard to beat. However, if money’s not an object, the best chugger out there now is Rick Clunn’s, Rico which is the closest thing to the original. Zell’s Magic Popper had a shaved down lip that gave it that fast chug and spit. The Rico is pretty close.”

  2. Jerkbaits: “Hands down, the Megabass Vision 110 in Pro Blue, GP Green and GP Sexy. It’s an expensive bait but catches loads of fish. Also X-Raps in Mossback Shiner and Ghost.”

  3. Crankbaits: Wiggle Warts– Lure Freak gets enigmatic: “I like the transparent brown finish. Of course, the originals are the best. I have a guy in Michigan who paints mine. Can’t tell you too much beyond that.”

  4. Spinnerbaits: “When there’s a good chop on the water, nothing beats covering water with a spinnerbait. I like anything with a combination of willow and Colorado blades in silver and nickel.”

  5. Invisibility: Tightlines UV Tubes and Beaver-style baits: “The fish see UV, it’s no gimmick. When fishing is tough, these baits will get you bites you wouldn’t have gotten. In the Beavers, go for the three-inch.”

  6. Finesse Jigs: “I’m a big fan of Jewel’s finesse jigs. Bring brown and watermelon green.”

  7. Curly-tail Grubs: “Throw a grub on a jig head and you’ve got slow-rolling awesomeness.”

  8. Swim Jig with Paddletail Swimbait: “I like swim jigs with rattles. The real key for smallmouth up here is to point the rod tip at the sky and continuously shake it as you’re reeling in. I say, ‘Shake those maracas, baby!’”

  9. Senkos: “Four-inch Senkos are hard to beat in some situations, like pitching around docks. You can fish ‘em wacky-rigged or I like to put them on a 4/0 EWG with 1/16 oz. tungsten. Deadly.”

  10. Hair Jigs: “Black and brown hair jigs will catch smallies when nothing else does. Don’t bring a bunch of heavy jigs, either. 1/16th and 3/32 oz. are perfect, fished on light 4-8 pound fluoro leaders on braid. Throw ‘em off rock bluff edges and watch your line. Once you see that line move you want to reel into them. Make sure to hold the reel handle steady as your reel. The big thing here is that marabou acts like a leech.”

  11. The Spinal Tap BONUS Bait!

  12. Swimbaits: “The Keitech Swim Impact Fat paddletail is a killer bait. Rig it on a jighead, keel-weighted EWG hook or as a trailer on a swim jig or spinnerbait. Must-have.”

To learn more about fishing smallies in pristine, nearly un-touched Ontario waters, visit Nestor Falls Fly-In Outpostsor call (877) 653-1524.

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