Open Water Fishing Season Can’t Come Soon Enough

For thousands of viewers of Lindner’s Angling Edge, Jeremy Smith is known as the muskie guy. But in reality, Jeremy is like a lot of us nutso anglers – he just loves fishing for anything that bites. From early-season crappies to mid-summer smallmouth and walleyes to late-summer muskie fishing, Jeremy loves to catch basically anything that swims. It’s all an adventure. It’s all fun.

Jeremy has been fishing since he was old enough to hold a rod and reel. From an early age, his passion for fishing has never stopped growing. In his college years, while he was earning degrees at Gustavus Adolphus College (Biology/Business) and Bemidji State University (Education), he worked as a fishing guide in the summers in northern Minnesota. After school, realizing how passionate he was about fishing, he dove headfirst into the fishing business.

Since then Jeremy has worked in almost every element of the business: magazine sales, television sales, magazine writing and editing, television editing and producing, tournament organization, still photography, videography and on-camera talent to name just a few of the hats he has worn.

On a recent trip to Lindner Angling Edge, located up in Brainerd, we had the opportunity to chat with Jeremy about this upcoming fishing season, his favorite Rapala lures, and of course, muskie fishing. Enjoy!

Question: Hey Jeremy, open water fishing season is right around the corner. When does your open water prep start and what are the key early tasks you work on?

Jeremy: Open water can’t come soon enough! I usually start prepping for open water in December. It’s when I put everything away for the year. During that process, I start making lists, while fishing is still fresh in my head. I go through all of my boxes and order whatever I’m missing or low on. Check out the reels to see which need new line.

Then, I start thinking about where we want to go and get any new rods, reels, line and lures for those specific locations on order, too. It’s also when I make sure to have all of my navigation data from the fish finders double-backed up. I’ve just found doing this process right after fishing has me better prepared. I’m still in the open water mindset. For me, it’s easier than when I used to do it in March when we could be fishing at any moment.

Question: Panfish can be a ton of fun in the spring before the opener. What is your favorite way to target panfish in the spring?

Jeremy: It certainly is. That one is pretty simple. It’s the Jerkbait program. After getting onto the early season crappie X-Rap® bite, with the size 4, 6, and 8, a number of years back, I can hardly wait to go explore new places to try this. The X-Rap is hands down my favorite lure to fish in the spring for everything. Since figuring out how crazy panfish are for it, it’s one of my favorite spring activities. There aren’t a lot of magic baits out there, but this is my number one bait. I simply haven’t seen a better way to catch crappies pre-spawn. If the cover isn’t too thick, I’ll fish this from the moment we can launch a boat until they go to bed. Oh, and after the spawn if they are still shallow, it’s still incredible!

Question: Once we get to walleye season, do you have any new techniques you are going to try this season?

Jeremy: The bait I want to play with more this season is the Jigging Shadow Rap®.

It’s another tool and like anything, the more experience you have with something, the more you understand when and where it works best. Of course, the Jigging Rap® is one of the greatest lures of all time, but it’s not always the answer. The Shadow seems to really shine in the mid-depths, like 8 to 20 feet deep. And I’ve seen times when the fish strongly prefer the Jigging Shadow over the Jigging Rap, and of course, vice versa. I just need more time with it to be really dialed in on the scope of this bait’s effectiveness.

Question: We know you are super passionate about muskie fishing. Where do you like to go and is there anything new in the muskie world?

Jeremy: Sadly, yes, I love muskies, but of course, I like fishing for everything. If it’s the right time of year, my favorite thing to do is fish for muskies in Canada. The waters are vast, the scenery is spectacular, the fish are big and you can’t even begin to scratch the surface of what’s up there to explore. So, my favorite trips are to Northwest Ontario’s Sunset Country.

As far as new stuff, there is always a bunch of new stuff each year in muskie fishing. One of the aspects I love about muskie fishing is muskie lures. The garage industry is alive and healthy. My buddy Jeff Simpson and I also love making muskie baits as well, whether it’s bucktails, topwater lures, or crankbaits. Two of our favorite lures to make are basically oversized Rapalas. One is like a BX® Brat, that’s a big wake bait. The other is like a giant Taildancer with different pull-point options.  A lot of the new baits are just better built or have little tweaks to traditional lure types. Little changes can make a big difference.

I was recently in Toronto, at the Spring Fishing and Boat Show and for Musky Sunday. There were a number of custom bait makers there. It’s so cool to see how beautiful these handmade lures are and how well thought out they are for specific applications. Seeing the renaissance of hand-crafted, limited-supply lures is really cool. 

Question: You are such a great multi-species angler, what are a few go-to lures you expect to tie on when filming the next season of Angler’s Edge?

Jeremy: That’s a great question. Doing the multi-species program forces you to try a lot of different things.

That said, there are some presentations we use all the time. In many cases, we are trying to find better ways to catch them, but a few baits just can’t be beaten. The Jigging Rap and X-Rap are two great examples of this. During certain conditions like, smallmouth in the spring, it always seems to come back to the X-Rap. Of course, we are always experimenting with different stuff, but it’s just amazing how deadly that lure is for cold-water smallmouth.

Same thing for walleye, such as later in the summer when they end up on deep humps and points. I’ll run through everything in my tackle box and the Jigging Rap rises to the top, time and time again.

What’s cool about the two baits I mentioned, and Rapala® of course has others, is the X-Rap isn’t just a smallmouth bait. Over the course of the season, we will catch walleye, pike, largemouth, smallmouth, crappies, bluegill, muskie, on and on with this lure. Same with the Jigging Rap — it catches so many different species of fish. We often joke about needing to shoot pieces on something different, but when it’s the best we’ve found it’s hard not to continue sharing it.

Thank you Jeremy for sharing your insights about fishing with all of our Rapala fans everywhere. Rapala is grateful for our partnership with Lindner’s Angling Edge. Thanks for helping us share the word about the effectiveness of Rapala lures.

Rapala X-Rap Series – Shop Now

Rapala Jigging Shadow Rap – Shop Now

Rapala Jigging Rap – Shop Now

Rapala BX Brat – Shop Now

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