Destin DeMarion is aware of his manner across the huge waters of Lake Erie and spends a variety of time trying to find huge smallmouth bass. Starting when the ice goes out and up till prespawn time, smallmouth bass are aggressive, could be caught each by energy fishing or finesse fishing and are simply plain huge. Nice lakes smallmouth bass are prevalent within the 3- to 5-pound vary and DeMarion ceaselessly catches them as much as 7 kilos underneath the suitable circumstances. Relying on the Bassmaster Elite Collection schedule, if time permits, DeMarion spends his free time on the huge waters of the good lakes fishing for large bronzebacks.

Listed here are his prime 5 baits and displays to catch the largest early spring smallmouth bass on the Nice Lakes.

1. Swimbait

For DeMarion, a swimbait is an efficient technique to cowl water whereas nonetheless fishing sluggish sufficient to tempt a torpid bass. When the ice first goes out, deeper water is his goal and he used the swimbait to choose over the deeper parts off offshore humps and reefs and works his bait parallel to the contours on sharp drop offs.


“I actually like a slower casting reel when the water is tremendous chilly simply after ice out. A 6.1:1 or a 6.3:1 ratio reel does the trick, because it helps me preserve the bait on the underside however isn’t too sluggish so I can catch again as much as the fish after a hook set. The important thing with the swimbait it to fish it quick, however sluggish.”

Barely turning the reel might get boring, however to catch bass underneath 40-degree water temperatures, it needs to be sluggish. He likes a bit heavier swimbait head when he’s fishing deeper water and his go to is 1/2-ounce as much as 3/4-ounce relying on the depth. He pairs the top with a shade to imitate shad, shiners, and alewives, and makes an excellent lengthy forged.

“With a Cashion 7-foot or 7-foot, 3-inch casting rod, I could make lengthy casts and the medium-heavy quick taper tip permits me to detect bites and get a superb hook within the fish. The quick tip provides some delay so the fish can eat it good earlier than I set the hook. I pair it with 12-pound Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon line which additionally helps get the bait to the underside.”

DeMarion will swap over to a spinning rod if wanted with a extra finesse method. Though the tactic doesn’t change, the smaller bait helps him trick huge bass when the water is tremendous clear. A 7-foot, 6-inch Cashion rod paired with 10-pound Gamma braid and a 6- or 8-pound chief. He prefers a 1/8- or 3/16-ounce ball head, once more, relying on the depth.

2. Ned Rig

The Ned rig is one other bait that can produce when the water is admittedly chilly. A flexible bait that mimics quite a lot of bait fish. When the water is dirtier, he’ll look to imitate goby and perch utilizing simpler to see darker coloured baits. Likewise, in cleaner water, a pure wanting bait helps mimic shad or different bait fish.

Ned rig.

“When the fish are tight to the underside, a Ned rig will get bites after they don’t need to react to a swimbait or different transferring baits. You aren’t searching for motion, only a delicate bait that appears pure to the fish. I like a Cashion 7-foot or 7-foot, 2-inch medium motion spinning rod with slightly energy to get a hook set on an extended forged and with a much bigger hook.”

An Proprietor block-head jig in 3/16-ounce is DeMarion’s go-to and the medium motion rod permits for an excellent lengthy forged whereas nonetheless giving him the power to get a superb hook set. An identical arrange on all his spinning combos, 10-pound Gamma braid to an 8- or 10-pound fluorocarbon chief.

3. Dropshot

One other good technique to decide off chilly water bass with a delicate method is the dropshot. If he sees a bass on his graph whereas overlaying water with a swimbait, the dropshot is his option to drop straight down. He adjusts the chief a bit shorter than different occasions of the yr because the fish are nearer to the underside and a 6- to 8-inch chief works effectively. In any other case, he’ll alter the chief size primarily based on the fish’s exercise stage, and at most as much as about 2 ft.


“For the dropshot, I like slightly shorter rod because it helps when fishing vertical. A Cashion 6-foot, 9-inch medium-light or 7-foot medium motion, with a quick or extra-fast tip. The brief rod for fishing proper under the boat and the longer rod when I’m casting it round. I exploit the identical braid to fluorocarbon chief, and I can downsize line with out worrying. Gamma makes an excellent powerful line that has nice motion and may be very laborious to interrupt.”

He sticks with the 10-pound braid to a 6- or 8-pound Gamma chief. The Gamma line is sturdy and holds as much as scuffs and knicks from rocks or zebra mussels. DeMarion prefers a dimension 3000 spinning reel, which is typical for all his set ups. The 3000 feels comfy in your hand and nonetheless holds sufficient line to help with making longer casts. Just like the Ned rig, he rotates to the dropshot concurrently to combine issues up and he completes his rig with a swimbait or worm type bait.

4. Crankbait

When the water warms to above 40-degrees, the fish get energetic and get on the transferring bait loads higher. DeMarion begins overlaying the massive sand and rocky flats/humps with a diving crankbait to search out roaming smallmouth, and can swap to a lipless bait when he will get round grass.


“A 7-foot medium as much as a 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy rod is just about my setup. For the shallow diving baits or a squarebill, the shorter rod works greatest. For deeper divers and lipless baits, the longer rods assist make lengthy casts. I choose graphite and composite rods over glass as I really feel like I can get a superb hookset and preserve them pegged higher via a number of jumps.”

Like most, a slower reel resembling a 5.1:1 to six.6:1 permits the bait to be fished alongside on the proper velocity whereas making him really feel like he’s fishing sooner. Identical with the swimbait, you must fish quick, however sluggish. For line, the 7-foot rod is paired with 10- or 12-pound Gamma whereas the longer rods may very well be wherever from 10- to 15-pound. The lighter line provides much less resistance when making an attempt to get a bait deeper and the Gamma doesn’t have an effect on the motion of the bait a lot even at a better pound take a look at.

“The sand and rocky flats and humps may very well be wherever from 5 ft to 15-plus ft and the important thing with a crankbait is to trigger a commotion. You need to be deflecting off rocks and ripping baits from no matter vegetation is within the space. Whether it is simply sand, get the bait to the underside and permit the invoice of the bait to depart a sand path as its labored again to the boat. In case you don’t know which depth vary the fish are in, work from deep to shallow and again and rotate crankbaits till you get bit.”

5. Jerkbait

Like a crankbait, the jerkbait is a big-time participant because the water warms, however typically the fish will droop and can react to a jerkbait even when it’s a bit colder. He likes a shorter rod for throwing jerkbaits however opts for a sooner reel to maintain up with fish that swim in direction of the boat.


“A 6-foot, 9-inch or a 7-foot medium rod is my go-to. The medium motion and reasonable taper let’s me give the bait an erratic motion and the 7.3:1 or sooner reel lets me catch as much as them when the make a run to the boat. A graphite or composite rod is ok for getting a hook in them and has some give to maintain them on even after they leap.”

For line, not a lot distinction from anything, however the vary is greater. The change in line from 8-pound take a look at to as much as 14-pound take a look at shouldn’t be a lot about invisibility within the water, though that does play an element, however controlling the depth is the important thing.

“A jerkbait will play from low to mid 40-degree’s water temperatures up via the spawn. I throw it in the identical areas that I do crankbaits. I’ll combine in a shallow operating jerkbait relying on the depth and if the fish get suspended over deeper water, the Mega Bass +1 or +2 will get all the way down to the place you want it – 6- to 12-foot. I let the circumstances dictate the bait. If the crankbait chew modifications or slows, or the fish get suspended, I can get them to return up for a jerkbait higher at occasions.”

Bonus Bait: Fish Sense Binsky Blade Bait.

The bladebait

“The Binsky is a superb vertical presentation from ice out on, however actually shines in chilly water for torpid or finicky bass. Might be jigged up and down, forged and hopped and even ripped in grass like a lipless crankbait. I exploit a 7-foot medium motion Cashion rod with 12-pound Gamma fluorocarbon.”

*Bait Hack – DeMarion replaces the again treble with an Proprietor flashy accent for added attracting energy.

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