The big blast: Fall smallmouth on top


Giant smallmouth crushing topwater baits may be the most fun you can have in a rainsuit. A Michigan guide defines the ideal scenario for this party.

Every fall there’s this thing in northern Michigan the locals call “lake-effect rain,” and boy, does it ever suck. Ordinary thunderstorms may soak you for an hour or so, but then they move on, the sun emerges and you dry out. Not so with this cursed lake-effect stuff. Once those big, dreary clouds of dank, drippy mist roll in off the Great Lakes, they just keep coming and coming, one after another — the zombie apocalypse of precipitation events.

The only rational place to be during a weather event this depressing is indoors. But then, smallmouth bass junkies like Chris Noffsinger and me aren’t all that rational. Shrink-wrapped in Gore-Tex yet still shivering in the clammy windblown mist, we were on a small inland lake, casting topwater lures and putting a righteous whoopin’ on trophy-class bronzebacks.

The soundtrack of that miserable, messy morning still plays in my mind. First I hear the staccato plip-plip-plip of Noffsinger’s Zara Spook dog-walking across the surface like a drunk stumbling out a tavern door. Next there’s the dull, soggy blurp-blurp-blurp of my Whopper Plopper as its rotating tail slaps the water, practically begging a fish to smash it. Finally there’s that sudden, percussive KA-BOOSH as a big smallmouth reaches the breaking point and delivers the killing blow! Regardless of the weather, that, my friend, will warm you up in a jiffy!