Fishing the Hubs Chub Rattalur for postspawn smallmouth
By LOY MILAM
May normally marks the beginning of consistent topwater smallmouth action on Dale Hollow Lake. In a normal year the surface temperature has warmed into the upper 60s or low 70s and smallmouth are finishing their post-spawn lull and begin to feed aggressively. Smallmouth at Dale Hollow spawn deeper than in most lakes because of the clarity of the water which allows for deeper penetration of sunlight, therefore beds can be 12 to 15 deep. Dale Hollow smallmouth like to spawn on pea-size gravel flats, cuts, or protected coves that are adjacent to deeper water when available. Once the female has deposited her eggs and turns the nest over to the male to guard, she does not travel a great distance; normally just backing off to the first break in 20 to 25 feet of water. These are the fish I like to target with topwater presentations, but tempting them can be a challenge.
My go-to lure for post-spawn females is the Hubs Chub Rattalur made by H.C. Baits in White Oak, PA. (//www.hcbaits.com/). This lure was made famous by the late Billy Westmoreland who endorsed the Rattalur for years and dedicated four of his ?Fishing Diary? television shows to this lure; calling it ?The Best Topwater Lure Going.?
The appeal of this lure is that it can be fished vertically (the tail sinks when allowed to sit motionless) and has three separate triggering features. Weighted with BBs inside a hollow sound chamber, sculpted with three angled slots on each side, and finished with a prop on the back, this lure can literally be fished in one spot for an extended period of time and yet create a surface disturbance; a must when you are trying to pull big smallmouth up from deeper water.
Early in May, I fish the lure slow by casting out and letting it settle in the water for at least 30 seconds. Then I simply give it a slight jerk on a semi-slack line which causes the tail of the bait to rise up in the water, turning the prop and displacing water on both sides of the lure through the angled slots. This vertical presentation allows the lure to be fished in situ which drives smallmouth crazy. Later in May when the fish are a little more aggressive, I will increase the speed of the lure by fishing it with a pop-pause? pop-pause motion. Even later when smallmouth are really aggressive, the Rattalur can be buzzed across the surface similar to a buzzbait, or worked in a walking-the-dog retrieve similar to Zara Spook.
The Hubs Chub Rattalur comes in two sizes (3 inch and 4 inch) and in 12 different colors. I prefer the 3 inch lure for Dale Hollow smallmouth in Tennessee Shad or Dalton?s Bone Shad. I fish the 3 inch Rattalur on a 6 foot medium-action spinning rod, spooled with 8 pound monofilament line. When fishing for largemouth I will go to the 4 inch Rattalur on a medium-action 7 foot baitcasting rod spooled with 14 pound monofilament. In both cases, the medium-action rod and monofilament gives the lure a little give and helps prevent pull-outs. The initial hit is usually explosive, but I wait until I feel the weight of the fish before setting the hook. More than once I have had big females literally blast the lure completely out of the water, then return to mouth it.
Loy Milam is a Coast Guard Charter Boat Captain and licensed Kentucky/Tennessee fishing guide, web site www.loymilam.webs.com