Early Fall Transition Smallmouth

by Chris Huskilson

Chris Huskilson - September 8th 2020

Early Fall Transition Smallmouth

My absolute favourite time of the year is fast approaching. The nights are getting cooler, water temps are dropping and the Smallmouth are on the move to their first transition of fall.

This is the time of year to start looking shallow. In the Kawarthas at least. When I’m seeking out transition Smallmouth I start with rock points. Not just any rock points. But the points leading in to deep water. 20’ plus. Weed or grass is a must as well. The local baitfish forage, in a lot of cases these are shiners, load up in the hard bottom vegetation on these points, and the Smallmouth are right behind them. Jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and walk the dog style top waters rule these areas. Don’t be afraid to utilize shallow running crankbaits as well. If you get bit. Chances are there will be several more active fish in the area to be caught. It is common to have multiple fish following the one you are fighting. This is a great opportunity to double up if you are fishing with a partner. Make sure you have a follow up bait ready to pitch to these curious tag alongs. I like a 3 or 4” senko rigged wacky. Or a NED rigged TRD craw. The fighting fish will often spit up. The followers eat this. Make sure you have your follow up bait in the mix and chances are they will engage it.

The second area I target are grass flats with sand bottom. The same is true here as well though. Not just any grass flat. They need to be adjacent to deep water. The bait loads up in the shallow grass and the Smallmouth will migrate from the deeper water up on to the flat regularly to feed on them. While a top water or spinner bait will work, I prefer a more finesse approach in this case. The fish are quite shallow. Often 3’ or less. And I don’t want to spook them. This is where I downsize my line, and run light fluorocarbon leaders. Make long fanning casts, with my talons down, thoroughly covering my area. Lift the talons, move another 20’ and repeat. My baits of choice in these circumstances are a marabou jig, a finesse jig or a small swimbait. These flats can be absolutely loaded once you find them. Same rules apply here for curious followers. Keep your follow up bait ready!! There is always more than one active fish looking to play.

Welcome to the first transition of fall! My absolute favourite time of year to catch big Smallmouth shallow. This window of opportunity won’t last forever though! Healthy weed or grass is a must to hold bait and keep the Smallmouth around. With the days shortening and the weather getting cooler that healthy green vegetation will continuously reduce in abundance. We are right on the cusp of quite literally the best fishing of the season. Below are some of my tackle and location recommendations.

Area 1: Rock points adjacent to deep water. (An example of what I look for below.)

Product Recommendations for Rocky Areas


In trusty black and blue paired with a 1/15 oz Finesse Shroomz head from Zman. Tough to beat in this situation.


You just can’t beat a Megabass Vision 110.


My choice is the Megabass V9 in a 3/8 oz. That thinner wire is the deal.

Shallow Running Cranks

I’m a huge fan of the Duo Realis Kabuki 55 flatsided crank.

Walk the Dog

 I love the Lucky Craft Sammy.

Area 2: Sand and grass flats adjacent to deep water. (Below is an example of what I look for)

Product Recommendations for Sandy & Grassy Flats

Marabou Jig

I prefer to use the Freedom Tackle Maribou Swing Jig in black.

Finesse Jig 

I’ve had a lot of success with the Duo Realis Small Rubber Jig this season.


I often use the 3” Sparkshad from Megabass. Paired with a 1/16 oz Okashira head.

The key to all of the above mentioned finesse presentations are a good Medium Light action spinning rod, a spinning reel with a very good drag, 8lb braided line to a 6-8 lb fluorocarbon leader. Some of my recommendations include;

Spinning Rod

I have fallen in love with the Megabass Destroyer F2.1/2-76XS Flyssa rod. It is absolutely perfect for the finesse applications I have highlighted. Lots of length and tip for extra long casts and fighting giant smallies without pulling or straightening those thinner wire hooks.


6-8 lb fluorocarbon leader- I have been very impressed with the Daiwa Samurai Line. Particularly as a leader material. Very soft and supple. But also very durable and abrasion resistant.

Spinning Reel

The Exsence 3000 from Shimano is the greatest finesse reel I have ever used. Super light, very smooth and the best drag I have ever felt in a spinning reel.

Braided Line

8lb braided line- my choice has and will always be Power Pro original braid in moss green. Super thin diameter and a single spool will last me the whole season.

As mentioned previously, I absolutely love this time of year. There is so much great fishing to be had. Take advantage! Tight lines!

Chris Huskilson

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