Ronnie Parris of Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited targets rocky points in October for smallmouth bass at Fontana Lake.
“With the drawdown beginning this August instead of after Labor Day, the lake may be lower than its usual 40 feet, exposing most of the laydowns,” said Parris (828-488-9711). “If that happens, the only places left at Fontana for smallies will be extended points with rock and rubble.”
Locating points is easy, but finding productive ones is another matter.
“Smallies move up and down the points to depths of 40 to 50 feet,” Parris said. “A point loaded with smallies one day may not hold any fish the next day. The fish also move along the point at various depths.”
Parris said fishermen must use their electronics to locate fish and forage during this transition month when the water temperatures are typically be in the lower 60s early in the month, then drop with colder weather. The temperature changes keep the smallmouth moving.
Once he locates fish, Parris uses two tactics.
For clients who don’t mind fishing with live bait, he rigs live shiners on light spinning gear, employing No. 6 hooks and a small split shot. He prefers standard bait hooks over circle hooks. The bait is lowered straight to the bottom, then he turns his reel handle several times to keep the bait 4 or 5 feet off the bottom. He cautions clients that the bite will be light, even undetectable.
“The rod feels spongy,” he said. “That’s often the only way you’ll know you have a bite.”
For clients who prefer artificials, Parris uses disco-green plastic Flukes in conjunction with 1/16- or 1/32-ounce jigheads in pink, chartreuse or silver.
To have success, fishermen should cast the Fluke near the shore, then s-l-o-w-l-y drag it down the stair steps of the rocky point.
“Most fishermen work the bait too fast and hip-hop it along the point,” Parris said. “You should fish it like a shaky head jig and let the rod tip give action to the bait.”
Parris uses light spinning gear with reels spooled with 10-pound Power Pro line. He adds a 6-foot, 6- to 8-pound test fluorocarbon leader, which he considers essential.
“The light leader is critical in Fontana’s clear waters,” he said. “Heavier line scares fish off.”
Parris said instead of Flukes, some locals use small salt n’ pepper tube jigs and barely pull the baits down the slope.
Trolling is another option if the fish are exceptionally deep.