Dock Talk 365 – Sat down with Chris O’Brien to talk Lake Champlain Spawn And Post-Spawn Smallmouth. Below are a few snippets from the Dock Talk article…
“Chris O’Brien is an angler who I love to follow his success and the techniques he uses to catch a ton of bass. Chris took a top 20 at the FLW Costa event on Lake Champlain. So of course, I wanted to find out all the details. And Chris graciously was willing to share his keys to success with Keitech baits for Lake Champlain spawn and post-spawn smallmouth bass.
You just finished a Lake Champlain tournament. Overall, how do you feel about your performance in the tournament?
You can’t really complain when you get a top 20 in a field of 200+ big sticks. Overall I felt it was a good event. I made some mistakes but I’ll learn from them. I’m extremely happy with decisions I made throughout practice and the event. I kept a good flow and it allowed me to get into a good rhythm and fish confidently
What section of Champlain did you focus on?
Lake Champlain is a monster body of water and can be very overwhelming. Each section of the lake is its own entity and can take days to break down. I focused on north of Plattsburgh, in Vermont and New York. I have fished this section before and thought it would be most efficient to fish familiar water instead of learning a new section of the lake. The cover in this section of the lake is very “smallmouthish”. The rock, sand, reefs and pockets all point to a thriving population of smallmouth.
Were you only targeting smallmouth or largemouth as well?
I focused strictly on smallmouth. I have a better understanding of the smallmouth on Champlain versus the
largemouth. With relatively limited practice I wanted to focus my practice on my strengths. Based on the seasonal pattern, I felt smallmouth could contend for the win. I caught a few random largemouth in practice but my bags were all smallmouth.
Once you found bass on the bed, you threw the Keitech Shad Impact. How did you present the bait to these spawning fish to get them to eat it?
I actually had a 2 prong approach to beds I marked in practice. I would fish my way toward them throwing a Keitech 3.8 Swing Impact fat on a Ledgehead jig head. Often times they were aggressive enough to move off the bed some and eat.
If I didn’t catch the fish leading to it, once I was on top of it, I looked through the flogger to make sure it was still there. If the fish was still locked to the bed, I would drop shot the shad impact in goby color. Smallmouth get very predatory around anything mimicking a goby. I was using a 5/8oz drop shot weight so it would sink quickly and lock to the bottom allowing me to give the shad impact a very erratic action without moving the location of the bait.
What Douglas rod did you use with this bait?
Chris, I can’t say enough good things about these rods. The strength to weight ratio is incredible and Fuji guides with 3 points of contact, make them incredibly sensitive.
I chose the 6103XF for a drop shot. The slightly shorter length really helped with accurate pitches at the beds. It’s the perfect action for crazy smallmouth, stout enough for a hookset with plenty rod left to play them out.
For a swimbait I was using the 764F. This is the perfect swimbait rod, the right amount of tip to load up the bait and bomb it out there and enough backbone and length to drive home the hook on a super long cast.