Smallmouth bass love leeches. Anglers catch thousands of smallmouth bass every year shallow and deep from spring through fall on leeches. As the water warms above 50 degrees, leeches tend to swim much better, like a ribbon moving through a current. Some of the top smallmouth bass anglers learned that the regular-sized leeches tend to catch more fish and they catch big fish as well. With the jumbo leeches, you may catch some nice bass, but the amount of bites tends to be less than with the normal-sized leeches. Don’t be set on the bigger baits because you think you’re going to catch bigger fish. With smallmouth bass, that can backfire on you at times. Smallmouth bass are opportunists when it comes to feeding, especially during the summer months. They feed on a wide range of insects, crayfish, minnows, chubs and panfish. Though leeches are strong swimmers, they are no match for predatory fish like the smallmouth bass. A swimming leech makes an easy target for smallies, and they are one of the fish’s favorite meals.
One method is to hook the leech on either a small #6 hook or a one-sixteenth ounce jighead. Black is the best jig color in clear water. If the water is moderately clear, white and chartreuse are also good colors. Use caution not to let the smallmouth hold the bait too long, allowing it time to swallow the hook. When a strike is felt, allow one second and set the hook. Use a swift, upward motion. Too quick a hookset is difficult with smaller hooks.
This rig uses a walking slip-weight and a bait hook, like an Octopus hook with a leech. The walking sinker is designed to move along the lake bottom with less resistance and to reduce getting caught up on rocks or other debris. Often a foam float is added on the line before the hook or a floating jig head to help raise the bait from the lake bottom for better presentation. You can even use a crawler harness or other type of spinner instead of a plain bait hook for added flash.
This is probably the most effective rig for fishing with leeches on shallow rock piles. First slip the slip bobber over the line, then tie on a number 8 short shanked hook. Place a BB sizeed weight six inches from the hook and a larger splitshot 10 to 15 inches above. The depth is controlled by tying a rubber band around your line at the desired depth above the slip bobber. Set up the rig so the BB shot is just barely above the bottom and let the current do the rest. As your bobber is rocked to and fro by the water action, the leech will bounce enticingly through the rock, with the smaller BB shot forcing it to drop between the rocks where the lunkers lurk. By rigging in this manner you are less likely to get hung up … other than on big fish that is.
I hope these few pointers help out. I have always found it fun to try out a new method of fishing and see what happens . All three of these methods require inexpensive gear and just a little bit of practice to have a successful Smallmouth Bass adventure .
Have fun be safe and good luck fishing.