World-class Smallmouths


The title of this article will no doubt cause some controversy across the land. One angler’s definition of “world-class” is likely very different from another’s. However, I will go out on a limb and say a 5-pound brown bass will make any good fisherman sit up and take notice.

This 5-pound barrier is rarely broken. When it is, there is cause for celebration. If you happen to be on a fishing trip and you get to touch a 5-pound-plus smallie three or four times a day, that is remarkable. I had just such a trip this fall.

I met good friend, Jason Brenic, at a lake in Michigan. Jason is the American Director for Piscifun Tackle. Other members of this expedition included professional fishing guides Jason Drewa of Finseekers Guide Service near Milwaukee and Vince Hytry (who was also our camp chef) and finally Dan Elsner, owner of Get Bit Baits. His tube jigs were instrumental in our success on this trip.

As I drove away from central Illinois, I was praying for cooler temperatures in Michigan. The thermometer on my truck’s dash fell steadily as I made my way north. By the time I arrived at camp, it was 46-degrees and I was in a much better mood. An inch of snow fell that night, and I was elated.


All aboard!

Fishing began the next morning with me being the third angler in Jason Drewa’s guide boat. Most of Drewa’s guiding is for walleye and pike, so his boat is big and had plenty of room for the three of us. Jason Brenic drew first blood.

The first fish in the boat that day was a solid 4-pound smallmouth bass. I was overjoyed! It has been a really long time since I had seen a smallie that big.

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Brenic immediately said, “They are bigger than this in here.” You see, Jason Brenic had scouted this lake back in September, so he knew it’s potential. He had not brought us to this particular body of water by accident.

I understand that the following couple of paragraphs may be a bit hard for you to believe. It was difficult for me to grasp, and I was there. Over the next two days, the five of us caught over 130 smallmouth bass. The average weight of the 130 fish was over 4 pounds! We had over a dozen over 5 pounds. As most fishing stories go, we all lost our biggest smallie of the trip at the boat.

It is very hard for me to put into words just how strong a 5-pound smallmouth is. They are a fighting, wriggling muscle. On the line, there is no fish that compares, pound-for-pound, to the fight of a smallmouth bass. Even when you get your thumb in their mouth, they are strong enough to twist your wrist and escape. That was a problem we were willing to endure to get to touch that many 5-pound bronze bass.

They hit everything we threw at them, especially Dan Elsner’s Get Bit tube jigs. Many nice walleyes also enjoyed hammering Elsner’s tubes. And Vince Hytry kept us well fed on fried walleye and northern pike.

Jason Brenic brought a highly experienced team of professional angers to Michigan for a very complex task for Piscifun. The results were better than any of us could have ever expected.