Western choices

WESTERN CHOICES from Rusty Brown…X Pops, Skitter Walk, Skitter Pop

Just two and a half months until the U.S. Open and 2013 Open champ Rusty Brown was talking topwater–especially following a successful trip to Minnesota, where he fished Mille Lacs Lake for smallies.

While you could argue, the difference between the natural lakes on the northern tier of the country and the arid desert of Arizona and Nevada are worlds apart, it’s hard to argue the methods are similar.

Even the wider availability of smallmouth bass at Lake Mead and the September U.S. Open connect the two extremes. Likely grass factors in at both locations.

While Brown is a Rapala guy, it was kind of interesting to note that the Normark brand has expanded well beyond floating minnows or Fat Raps. Their topwater selection really does have a national appeal.

Brown gets one

RAPALA X POP is a bait that spans the country’s topwater opportunities.

For our purposes, it’s good to note that the Minnesota Lake is pretty good sized–about 200 square miles and pretty much on big basin–and subject to high winds. That’s something westerners can relate to.

The biggest difference was most of the fish he caught were in less than 10 feet–not so different from his Gregg Basin spots at Lake Mead, but the environment varied as to forage. The big natural lake in Minnesota saw yellow perch as the primary forage, so that’s the direction he chose with a Rapala X Pop.  At Mead, it’s more about shad and bluegill, depending on the cover.

As for cadence, Rusty wrote: “Pop-pop, pause [and] they would slurp it in.” Most of the time at Mead, however, when covering long stretches of water, you rarely get the opportunity to fish as slowly–except in some quiet pockets. Either way, he prefers the speed of tying and the reliability of a Palomar knot.

Of course, the water temperatures were cooler than in the desert. Brown reported as much difference as 64 to 69 degrees, even with the 80 degree days up North. But the smallmouth, ranging from 2 to 5 pounds, would not be impossible to find at Mead, though not in the same numbers.

Rusty Brown looks forward to defending his Open title in September–and also looks forward to returning to Mille Lacs. “Can’t wait to get back,” he said.