Center Hill Lake was really good one morning last week. I actually spent most of the morning shooting photos, and at lunchtime Nathaniel and I hopped in the truck to drive to Arkansas. Still, I managed to land five chunky smallmouths, had a couple of really good one's get off and missed a few other strikes.
All the fish attacked the same 4-inch Big Hammer Swimbait fished on a 1/4-ounce Hammer Head. The approach favored by longtime Middle Tennessee guide Jim Duckworth this time of year is as simple as it gets. Cast toward a rocky point (which is where many Center Hill smallies spawn) and reel the back slowly and steadily so the bait follows the slope and swims just off the bottom. Just be sure to hold on tight, because the smallmouths tend to put a seriously big hammer on the swimbait! Jim Duckworth talks about swimbait smallmouths in the latest video that Nathaniel posted on our YouTube Channel.
Our fun morning on Center Hill also reminded me of the impact of changing conditions. Only a day earlier, two boats from our group had fished the same baits along the same banks and struggled most of the day. That morning had started cold and clear, and the bite was very tough. One angler stayed later than everyone else and caught them well late in the afternoon, as clouds were coming in and the wind was increasing, and when we got on the water the next morning, we all picked up right where he had left off. Big rains were on the way, and we caught them well just ahead of the front.