Out practising on Smith Lake

My thought heading south to Alabama this past weekend was that the weather and temperatures would be a lot nicer than in Sunset Country.
Well, there isn’t any snow on the ground down here but the temperatures are not much warmer than they are back home.
It’s been about minus-four C in the mornings when we get up and gets only a little bit warmer during the day.
The good news is there’s a warming trend coming this week. I know, nobody has any sympathy for me at home but it’s cold to be fishing in a boat.
I’m in Jasper, Ala. getting ready for the FLW Tour bass tournament later this week at Lewis Smith Lake. I’ve been practising for two days and have one to go before the tournament starts tomorrow.
Smith is an interesting lake and about as opposite as you can get from Lake Okeechobee in Florida, where the last FLW Tour tournament was. It is a reservoir with a lot of super deep water.
There is a lot of rock, so it looks a lot like our lakes back home. Probably the one lake it reminds me of the most is Crow Lake but the water—while clear—is not gin clear like it is at Crow.
It’s not unusual for the boat to be sitting in 100-plus feet of water within a cast of shore, so it’s a little bit different from your typical bass lake.
Although Smith Lake has some largemouths in it, it’s known for its healthy spotted bass population (there are no smallmouth bass in this lake). Incidentally, I have caught a few spotted bass over the years at different lakes that I’ve fished, but I’ve never actually targeted them before this week so it’s been a little bit of a learning process.
They are coloured like a largemouth, but they have a more slender profile and they act a lot like smallmouths.
I have two partners down here with me for the practice: Darryl Galusha of Kenora and Scott Walsh from Minnesota, who both are fishing on the co-angler side in the tournament.
Our first morning on the lake got off to a quick start. We caught three bass in the first 15 minutes, which we thought was pretty good, and then caught them fairly consistently throughout the day.
Day 2 was a little bit tougher, though I’m not sure why. I caught one nice fish, around three pounds, but the numbers were way down.
The average size of the fish in this lake is not all that great. Predictions are that around 15 pounds per day probably will win the tournament while 10 pounds a day should cash a cheque.
We have been catching fish on suspending jerkbaits and a few on drop-shot rigs.
I have a new lure sponsor this year, a Japanese company called Jackall Lures, and they make some really nice stuff. They make some really good jerkbaits called the Squad Minnow and Soul Shad that I’ve been catching fish on.
I’m not totally sure what the warmer weather will do to the fish, but I’m optimistic it will improve the bite at least a little bit.
In the spring, the general rule is that bass like warming water so hopefully that’s the case here.
For my last day of practice, I’m going to continue looking for more spots with fish and will try to tweak my lures to figure out what they want the most.
I’m excited for the tournament to start (follow along throughout the weekend at the FLW Outdoors website).