Patience and persistent focus played a huge role for Oklahoma pro Luke Palmer weighing 90 pounds, 2 ounces of smallmouth bass in four days for a second-place finish in the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Michigan’s Lake St. Clair.
“I never made a cast that I didn’t see a fish that I thought was a smallmouth,” Palmer said. Working a few key areas in Anchor Bay, Palmer watched his electronics constantly, resisting blind casting in order to always be ready for an accurate cast and good presentation when he did see a good fish. He guessed that he made 120 to 140 casts – total – per tournament day.
Patience and persistent focus were also required for the finesse presentations needed to fool the size of smallmouth bass that Palmer needed.
Palmer’s Smallmouth Strategy
Palmer used three different baits and presentations to catch his fish at Lake St. Clair.
“A drop shot is always important at St. Clair, and I caught quite a few fish on a drop shot with a YUM Warning Shot.” The Warning Shot has long been Palmer’s go-to drop shot bait for smallmouth bass.
He also caught some fish on a tube, fished on a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce Great Lake Finesse Mini Pro Tube Head.
When the winds fell off and things got slick, Palmer took finesse to another level, and that’s when the magic happened with some of his largest fish. When those conditions occurred, Palmer switched to a Great Lakes Finesse 2.75-inch Drop Minnow rigged on a GLF 3/16-ounce Stealth Ball Head Jig Head, which he cast past the fish he was targeting and then swam steadily above the fish.
“It had to stay 3 to 5 feet above them, and they would come up and get it. If it dropped down to their level, they didn’t want it,” Palmer said.
Recognizing the fish far away and making a long, accurate cast was also important. Palmer said that ideally he wanted to be casting to fish that were 50 or 60 feet away. If they were within about 30 feet, they seemed to sense the boat and were far less likely to eat.
Palmer fished both the drop shot rig and the Drop Minnow on spinning tackle with 12-pound Sunline SX Braid and a Sunline St Sniper fluorocarbon leader. He fished the drop shot on a 7-foot medium action Falcon Cara rod and the Drop Minnow on a 7-foot medium Falcon BuCoo rod.
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