Helping Others PASSION Smallmouth bass Door County

Fishing With A Purpose

Tales of Two Non-Descript Fishermen

By: Shane Beilue and Tim Sewell

The Drop Shot

It’s amazing how small the world has become, with tools of social media connecting people across the country and even across the world through common hobbies and pursuits.  Such was the case when Tim Sewell (Instagram: @postive_fishing_power) and I connected via Instagram from some 1500 miles apart.   A lot of people share a passion for bass fishing, but we really connected via the shared desire to use fishing as a platform to communicate a message bigger than ourselves.  With Tim’s youth and high school coaching background, he sees many life lessons to be taught through the pursuit of trophy smallmouth of Wisconsin and become the knot in the center that connects older and younger generations.  My message to reinforce through bass fishing is also instructive: that God deserves to be glorified among the world He created and we can be reconciled back to Him – no matter how far we’ve drifted away.

As we developed a friendship built upon these commonalities, we found subtle differences resulting in being raised in different parts of the country, such as Tim being raised upon the ghosts of Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, while I hung on every last second throw of Captain Comeback, Roger Staubach.  Additionally, our approach to bass fishing also evolved according to respective geography, as each adapted a style of fishing specific to the waters we frequented; Tim honing his craft in the clear smallmouth waters of Wisconsin, while I learned the “power techniques” demanded of southern reservoirs and rivers.

With the attention of tournament bass fishing from both professional tours recently centered on the incredible smallmouth fishing in waters of New York, Michigan and Wisconsin, the drop shot is dominating these events; and, we found the opportunity to discuss this technique common to both our geographies.  We also examined some interesting differences in how this versatile technique is applied to each geography.

The first article I sold to BASSMASTER MAGAZINE in 2004 featured well-known Texas pro, Bill Wilcox, implementing a unique adaptation to the hottest technique in the country: the drop shot.  What started as a vertical finesse technique to attract finicky bass from the clear deep waters out west, Wilcox had proven the technique equally effective in the stained, wood-covered reservoirs of Texas by increasing the line size, hook and soft plastic worm.  Rather than fishing vertically, Wilcox found success by casting and dragging the rig along boat dock pilings and offshore structure breaks.  Anglers have been adapting the drop shot to fit their specific needs in different parts of the country ever since.

Today, the drop shot is standard fare for southern anglers fishing offshore, with many pros and experienced locals fishing a rotation of “power baits”, such as crankbaits, Carolina rigs and swim baits, before casting, dragging and shaking a drop shot across structure breaks where bass are foraging for shad.  In this scenario, the drop shot is commonly fished on 15# braided line tied to a 10-12# fluorocarbon leader – a set up more akin to Wilcox’s beefed up adaptation than the 6-8# lines from the originators out west.  Even with 5-6” plastic worms, the technique is still considered “finesse” down south and can pull bass that have proven reluctant to eat a fast-moving bait.

Up on the northern waters of Door County, Wisconsin, Tim finds the drop shot a versatile tool in seeking out the over-sized smallmouth located in his home waters.  As he explains, “A drop shot is a pretty standard method for targeting smallmouth during the summer post-spawn all the way through the fall.  As the smallmouth transition from spring spawning areas to deeper water during summer we typically start by fishing adjacent shoreline flats with plenty of rock near deep water”.  Sewell notes their shallow water search starts with jerkbaits and small paddle tail swim baits when the bass remain shallow in the immediate post-spawn period, but as the bass move deeper with the summer months, the drop shot becomes a predominant player to present a bait down where the fish are located.

Sewell finds the drop shot provides added benefits by keeping the lure above two very challenging bottom dwelling species: zebra mussels and brown algae.  As he states, “With the round Goby being a primary food source in our fishery, working the bottom is key and many rigs, such as a Ned rig, tube or jig, can attract a bite; however, the zebra mussels are so abundant on every rock, boulder and pebble that their edges are like serrated knives on fluorocarbon line.  Also, brown algae cover much of the bottom surfaces and slimes up any lure it contacts, so the drop shot allows us to mimic the Goby, yet keep our baits above the mussels and slime”.

Regarding how the drop shot is presented, Sewell proves the versatility of the drop shot by casting, drifting and vertical fishing the bait.  His tackle set up is as follows: “We prefer a 6’10” to 6’11” extra fast action 2-3 power rod (ML/M), as we find this rod length is critical since longer, extra fast rods don’t have quite the parabolic bend we prefer.  Having the right action and power allows you to detect bites and keep the fish pinned when you hook up 50-60 yards from the boat”. 

As with most fans of the drop shot, a tungsten cylinder weight is key in avoiding an abundance of snags on the bottom, with a 3/8 -1/2 oz weight getting the nod out to 20-25’ of water.  Sewell adds, ” I used to be skeptical about buying tungsten because of the price; but, since converting we discovered that, on average, we lose far fewer weights due to the added sensitivity, which allow us to detect potential snags before they happen.” Sewell also prefers a line tie weight over a clip style, adding, “A lot of our snags are related to zebra mussels and can be freed with a quick rod snap.  I found that with clip style weights, the line tends to slide or break at the weight more often. 

As a Goby imitator, the Poor Boy Baits Erie Darter, the Strike King Half Shell and Baby Z-Too get the most work in the clear Wisconsin water.  When fishing worm style plastics, the Strike King Dream Shot or Robo Worm Fat Straight worm fit the bill, while the Keitech Easy Shiner and Yamamoto Swim Senko make great minnow imitations.

Sewell adds the following note regarding when they use the minnow style soft plastics over the Goby imitators, by stating, “Typically we drift or slow reel these offerings in late summer because young of the year alewives start to school as they relocate from shallow nursery areas and migrate off shore”.  Wolf packs, as he refers to schools of bass, will follow these masses of bait fish and a dropshot allows the angler to get a minnow imitation below the smaller, more aggressive smallmouth and closer to the big fish that are waiting for an easy meal.  Sewell adds, “When we locate this scenario it’s not uncommon to have 70 -100 catch days”.    He also adds that this is an effective technique around weedy cover, where young perch are prevalent.

The adaptability and effectiveness of the drop shot makes it a technique every angler should add to their arsenal, regardless of geography, depth, water clarity, or species.  Who knows what the next tweak or adaptation may produce?

Sewell also shared this tip as well, “If you are going to use a drop shot the Cali Clip by Cal Coast fishing is a game changer for keeping your line tangle free when you set the rod down on deck or store it at the end of the day.”

Recommended equipment:

The Gold Standard Rod and Reel

  • GLoomis 822s=DSR (6′ 10″X-Fast Mag-Medium)
  • Shimano CI4+ 1000 size

Won’t Break The Bank Rod and Reel

  • Kraemer Custom Rods “Joe Pro” (6′-10″ X-Fast Medium)
  • Bass Pro JM Platinum Signature 1000 size
  • Shimano Nasci 1000 size

Our Confidence Baits & Terminal Tackle

  • Poor Boy Baits Erie Darter and Erie Darter JR
  • Strike King Half Shell and Dream Shot
  • Yamamoto Swim Senko
  • RoboWorm Straight Tail
  • Swagger Tungsten


Bass Fishing’s Future is in Good Hands

Most of my life I fished just to be fishing — walleye, bass, perch, crappie, bluegill, it didn’t matter. Like the majority of those who fish it was recreational, or to get a few fillets for the deep fryer. I always enjoyed the challenge that fishing presented but never thought more about it than that.

This all changed about 6 years ago when my now 18 year old son decided that bass were his favorite species to catch! I soon found myself spending 90% of my fishing trips targeting smallmouth bass on the Door County waters of Green Bay.

As his passion for bass fishing grew to the point that he was following the pro levels and naming off fishing pros like most kids name off NFL QBs, I realized I had a lot of catching up to do if I was going to be able to offer assistance as a father. So what had been a recreational pastime developed into a relationship between a father providing support for his son to follow his passion and hopefully achieve his goals and a son providing direction for a father entering the next chapter in his life.

In May of 2019 I was dealing with some warranty issues on my boat prior to a team tournament we were preparing for. As a courtesy the regional rep that I was dealing with for Lund Boats arranged for my son and I to meet one of their sponsored angler: Elite Pro Jeff Gustafson who was fishing the tournament with his partner, Elite Pro Seth Fieder.

We had a short casual conversation over dinner and as we were preparing to go our separate ways, Gussy (as he prefers to be called) said “if you ever need any advice, don’t hesitate to ask as I am always willing to help out a young angler”.

What I considered simply a kind offer by a professional athlete turned out to be much more. This wasn’t lip service but rather, as I would discover, a sincere gesture made by a young man that has his priorities in order.

Over the last year I have followed Gussy’s career not only on the Elite series but also on social media platforms as well, and I am impressed with how open he is to answer questions and share his insight with complete strangers. Any time I am researching information related to smallmouth fishing I would come across his name associated with articles written on the matter. He has been open to offering advice not only to my son but to myself as well.

So it should be no surprise when I asked him if he wouldn’t mind answering some questions so that I could help spread my message he didn’t hesitate in answering “Sure, I’d be happy to”.

In the sport of bass fishing I am sure there are many others that share the same kind of values and character as Gussy, and for sure some are more well-known names. But I can tell you from firsthand experience that if you have a son or daughter who is as passionate about fishing as mine is you will not go wrong in having them follow this young man as he proves himself on the Elite Series Tour.

I would like to add that outside of our dinner I have had no other dealings with Mr. Fieder, but knowing what I know about the character of Gussy and the fact that they fish some team events together Seth certainly is a stand up guy as well.

Part of our philosophy at Positive Fishing Power is to make a difference through our passion for fishing and the outdoors and to support those who share the same principles. This Father’s Day let’s remember those who introduced us to the joy of fishing and say thanks for the memories that were created. Together we can all make a difference, one fish at a time.

Q) How were you introduced to fishing and what kept you involved during your youth that ultimately led to you becoming a professional angler?

A) For me, growing up spending the summers at our family cabin on Lake of the Woods probably had the biggest influence on my fishing career. From an early age I have had the fishing bug and I have just always had easy access to some great fishing opportunities. I also had a father who took me fishing and made sure I had fun when I was a little kid. 

Jeff and Dad

Q) How much would you say that confidence plays a role in fishing success? 

A) Confidence in fishing is huge, obviously. I get asked all the time about what color lure I’m using… and the answer I often have for people is it doesn’t matter what color your jig or worm is if you aren’t putting it in front of fish. Finding fish is huge… for that reason I don’t carry a million colors of different baits with me on the water. I carry the ones I have confidence in.

Then it’s important to have confidence in your equipment. Put in the time to make sure everything works before you hit the water. Finally, spend as much time as you can on the water. You will learn something each time you’re out there and that helps to build confidence as well.  

Q) What do you remember most about your first Bass Masters Classic?

A) The rush of getting pulled into the arena, with the loud music, the large crowds, that was probably the most surreal moment that I’ve waited my whole life for.

I will also say I had a couple of happy tears when my name was called to blast off on the first morning and I thought about all of the people who have helped me along the way, to get where I am today. Some of them are gone now, others are still a big part of my life.

2020 Classic GUSSY provided by gussyoutdoors

Q) During a tournament every ounce is important. How do you remain focused and stay positive when you lose a fish, especially a big one?

A) Honestly, when I lose a fish now, within five seconds of it happening, my bait is going to be back in the water and I’m over it. I do everything I can to my equipment to help prevent fish losses but it’s going to happen from time to time. That is part of the luck factor in fishing and if it’s gone, it’s gone. You’ll rarely hear me talking about fish I lost after the tournament day is finished, you just carry on and find another one.

Q) Do you have any superstitions (like a lucky hat or a certain routine you follow) before an event?

A) I once had a small stone from a bass I caught out at Sturgeon Bay, I carried that with me for a few years and I’m not sure what happened to it.

Today, I have a Canadian Loonie (our $1 coin) embedded into the carpet of my boat – the story being at the 2002 and 2010 winter Olympics, the ice maker was a Canadian who put a Loonie in the ice and Canada won the gold medal in men’s hockey at both games.

Q) Knowing us northern anglers may be at a disadvantage over southern anglers because of a much shorter open water season, what advice would you give a young angler from up here that may give them an advantage if they are looking to compete in the sport of bass fishing?

A) I can tell you that no matter if you are fishing in Minnesota, Canada, Alabama or Florida, bass of all species relate to some sort of structure or cover wherever they are and they all spawn in the spring.

Having knowledge of spawning tendencies helps to find fish in the spring, then through much of the year bass location is based on where their forage is located.  

Q) Based on how the events of our recent history have affected us all, how would you suggest the fishing community can do its part to give back?

A) The current virus crisis is affecting all of us in some way or another. I think the best thing that we can all do is get out fishing when we can, follow the guidelines for staying safe and hopefully this will all be over sooner rather than later. I think the best thing the fishing community can do is to be cognizant of the situation we’re in and not be the cause of any further outbreak or ignore the social distancing guidelines, which would make us all look bad.

Gussy and wife Shelby sharing their passion together!