Conditions seemed just right for the first trip to Lake Memphremagog for “Pre Spawn Smallmouth”. Vermont has a special Catch & Release season that just has to be experienced to be believed.

The day called for mostly sunny skies and light winds of 5 to 10 mph from the west/north west. Water temperature would be the key to success as this was my first trip to the lake this year.

We launched in Newport at the city dock and headed off to a small bay nearby. The surface temperature showed barely 50 degrees, but I knew they would be here. With both Tony and I casting suspending jerk-baits, it wasn’t long before the first fish was boated and released. In about an hour, we managed to catch 10 fish ranging from 2 to 4 pounds, in 4 to 8 feet of water. “Still too cold” I said, as we relocated to other deeper areas further away. The jerk-baits were just not working, so I knew we would have to go deeper. Light jigs of 1/8oz. Combined with “Fin-S” baits by Herb Reed at Lunker City, allowed us to start hooking up, as we should be. Most of the fish were staging in 18 to 25 feet of water adjacent to spawning areas. With each move, we continued to boat bass by fishing the steeper edges of similar areas throughout the lake. The “Fin-S” would definitely be the winner today as the fish proved to still be deep. As well as being deep, they were very inactive with most being dead sticked into biting our presentations. Along with the 60 to 75 bass up to four pounds landed, many more were lost as well. We even managed to boat 3 beautiful young salmon between 2 & 3 pounds. Tony would be having a nice dinner with these Landlocks.

The season seems to be on the beginning edge of its cycle. In the next few weeks, weather permitting the smallmouth will become more active with each passing day. The aggressiveness of these bronzebacks will increase and faster moving lures like jerkbaits & crankbaits will trigger them into striking. The jigs will always have a place and still manage to stir up the fattest females with light line presentations. Be ready to adjust several times a day during this time of year as the water warms & the fish become active. Keep an open mind and be alert to any subtleties you may encounter. Flexibility is the key to success for the “Pre Spawn Smallmouth” of the Northeast Kingdom and the Bronzeback is King.