For a couple of years, The Bassmaster Elite Series tournament bass anglers have travelled to Mille Lacs Lake, a large and shallow lake in Minnesota, in search of smallmouth. At the time of this writing, 50 of the best anglers in the world are likely probing offshore structure, just as one of our Bass University instructors did last year on his way to an AOY championship tournament win with over 76 lbs. of smallmouth bass over 3 days. Mille Lacs isn't the only great fishery for offshore smallmouth, and Michigan native Chad Pipkens is here to share secrets that will help you catch big smallmouth in lakes like Champlain, Erie, Oneida and more! In some areas of the country, it's common to fish around visible cover all year. Up north, many fisheries require investing the time in maps study and graphing to locate offshore structure. Fishing underwater targets on big water is challenging, especially in 4ft+ waves, and you want to make sure you stay on the sweet spots aka "the juice", and generate bites while you're there.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth are members of the micropterus genus of freshwater fish, also known as black bass, which also contains largemouth and other game fish, like spotted bass. In some lakes, particularly in the north, the smallmouth population can comprise the largest bass population in a lake, be the most abundant, or both. While these 2 bass are in the same genus, they differ greatly. While both species may utilize the same structure or cover, they may utilize it differently. In this seminar, Chad focuses on targeting and catching smallmouth bass around offshore structure.

Do's and Don't of Offshore Structure Fishing

In this video, Pipkens will discuss and make recommendations on common questions related to fishing offshore structure:

  • What about using drift socks and dragging lures behind the boat?
  • What are the downfalls of just marking waypoints when you catch a fish?
  • Should I be waiting to mark smallmouth on my electronics before fishing?
  • Is it worth the time and effort to fish isolated structure (like single rocks & boulders)?
  • How do I use my electronics to find the juice?


Chad talks about the importance of waypoint management. He discusses what he marks on his graph, how he manages waypoints and uses those places to do well or even win bass fishing tournaments. Pipkens talks about why it's important to be familiar with the area your fishing. We've all had those days when you've been catching them on previous days and now, "they just disappeared". Often smallmouth are still in the area, but how do you pinpoint them and generate bites? Pipkens will help you think about where the bass will be throughout the day, and help you understand how to better manage your time & locations during a tournament to maximize your success.

Question & Answer

Chad Pipkens answers the following student questions:

  • How do you know what type of bait/color to throw on a dropshot? (Check out the Poor Boy's Erie Darter, see the video for Chad's color recommendations)
  • Which is more important, location or lure?
  • Does letting a smallmouth go slow down the school?
  • Do you hook the bass in tournament practice?
  • Do you prefer to target rock or grass to target for tournaments?
  • What are your thoughts on scents?
  • How do you drive around to graph the bottom effectively?

If you want to learn more about how to catch smallmouth bass on offshore structure? Watch Dropshot Fishing for Smallmouth & Deep Structure Fishing for Smallmouth.

Related Bass Fishing Topics

chad pipkens offshore smallmouth structure

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