I've had the idea to try fishing leeches for a few weeks now. I had a luxury day out with Tom Carr from Fatal Force Outfitters (Luxury as in I forgot all my cameras at home so I had to just catch biggin's and hope you believe me) and we just HAMMERED a bunch of smallmouth bass while fishing with leeches. I'm not a huge fan of live bait and real leeches are hard to find around here anyway. I decided to get a few bags of Berkley's Gulp! 3" Leeches and see if they would add up as well as the real thing.
I messed around for the morning, which cost me some fish I think. I had read an article by John Whyte saying he had found fish in 20-30 feet of water, off transitions. I had also talked to Brendan from The Perfect Jig who said he had also had luck fishing for deep fish later in the year. So that was the plan, I was going to dig out some transitional areas and then move off them to about 20 or 30 feet. I fished for about 4 hours without a single bite from a bass. I had also lost the skirts of about 4 tubes to perch on top of it. Deep water fishing wasn't happening for me today.
I only had a few hours left of the day, before real life would settle in and I had to get the kid home, get some stuff done and all those everyday things that get in the way of fishing. I decided I might as well try and grab some smaller fish up shallow, just to get a video out of it at least.
Going out with Tom previously, he had shown me how to work transition lines. Us guys up here on Simcoe are super lucky. We have such clean clear water we can simply just troll and visually follow them, even in 20ft of water. Find some rock, find the edge where it breaks into sand and follow it for the length.
The weather was working for me today too. All the wind had shifted from the morning westerly wind, into an east wind that was gently wholluping the rock points. The boat was a little hard to keep on point but I managed to keep it off the rocks for the most part (reminder, the next boat should probably also be an aluminum with the way I drive).
Another thing came to mind when I moved up, Brendan had mentioned you gotta use looooong casts so you don't spook those fish. So, that's just what I did. I combined the advice from Tom with the advice from Brendan and in no time I sunk into my first smallie. I had cast out so far I didn't see him bite and only felt him when I lifted up. That's the great thing about these Owner hooks, that tri-blade cutting point easily slides into the fish, even on a gentle set. The setup for the leeches was a simple drop shot.
Setting up a drop shot is easy. Over the last few years I've learned a lot about the setup. I used to use the same hooks as my wacky rig (and they worked!) but since then I've learned that smaller hooks work the same and they're much less more noticable (which is a must here on Simcoe). For my setup, I use straight fluro, a full spool - but if you like the idea of braid with a Fluorocarbon leader, it still works. Just make your leader longer. Personally I like an 8lb Fluro and if I'm putting it on braid, I'll use the same 8lb braid to go with it.
Next is the money - the Berkley Gulp! 3" Leech. It's crazy how real these things look, right down to the sucker! A simple nose hook and it's done.
The weight is always as light as I can get but usually no smaller than 1/8th. I have a heavy hand and like to feel the tightness of the weight but that might be something I should learn to work around.
As for the fishing, the day was amazing for only a few hours. I caught around 6 fish, one being a catfish and one that broke my line (I'm counting it because it was massive and I saw it).
If you're interested in trying something new and that produces well, I suggest giving these fake leeches a try. You get a ton in a package and they look amazing!