Smallmouth Bass Fishing Secrets

By: Daniel Eggertsen

A lot of fishing techniques vary in efficiency depending on what type of fish one is aiming for, especially with bass.

One bass in particular, the smallmouth bass, can be very picky at times, but careful attention to detail can have the avid and casual fishing enthusiast alike reeling in their limits in no time.

It is pretty much common knowledge that the largemouth bass will eat just about anything that it can, which is for the most part true, but the same isn't necessarily true as much for the smallmouth bass. The smallmouth, while not very picky in its diet, tends to scale things down a bit more and will prefer a few plump bites than many small bites or one really big meal. The smallmouth will still go after insects, but its favorite food is usually the crawdad, or crayfish.
Smallmouth bass also tend to like deeper and cooler water than largemouth, and the smallmouth will really get active between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

During this time, the smallmouth will feed on the bottom near stronger current, especially near rocks and even man made items such as wooden support structures of bridges that cut the flow.
Other than using live crawdad as bait, artificial lures in a wide range of type will suffice for cooler smallmouth fishing, with drop shot rigs, spinner baits, and jerk baits being especially effective in most scenarios. Other great live bait includes big worms and fresh minnows.

They key here is to keep things small and slow, especially with extremely warm or cold weather (since in either case the smallmouth bass will be doing its best to conserve as much energy as possible due to slow metabolism in the cold and risk of poor oxygen in hot weather).

Most of the time when the smallmouth bass retreats to deep water, it will do so for feeder fish and will do so at around the thermocline, which will be about 25-35 feet down. This will especially occur in reservoirs and near channels where the shoreline goes underwater at approximately 45 degrees.

Drop off points, very rocky shoals, and even fallen timber can be great covers for smallmouth bass as well, so be sure to check a variety of areas for prime location.

Preparation is ultimately the biggest trick to fishing for smallmouth. This involves charting the area out months and seasons beforehand; especially when the water is very low and you can note particular great cover spots that are hidden when the waters are higher. This especially comes in handy in any season where the weather works to make structure invisible, such as snow and mud.

Smallmouth bass really enjoy being next to objects for their cover, particularly solid objects (which is part of why they aren't as fond of weeds as largemouth bass are), and they tend to be most active from nighttime to early morning (especially if the water is very clear).
Smallmouth will spook very easily, even if they are very aggressive due to fast-paced high competition areas with low food supplies. Slow drags are the best ways to pull up a smallmouth, especially if the season and food supply prompt the smallmouth to be picky about their diet.

A good thing to keep in mind, also, is that smallmouth will travel in schools of smallmouth that are the same size, so relocation may be necessary if you keep hooking small catches.

I would not recommend trying to topwater for smallmouth because you have a better chance of spooking them than you do attracting them, but it can be done with skill. The reason that it is usually best to head for the bottom in shallower water and about 30 feet down elsewhere is because that is where the food for the smallmouth is, and that is also where the water is cooled to their liking. In winter, schools can even get down to 55 feet or more!

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