Most anglers love fishing for smallies all across the country. At one time, you could only find smallmouth bass north of the Mason Dixon Line; now you can find them from as far south and as far north as you can go.
These elusive bass are tricky, and they have a knack for the “nibble and roll.” I find that out of every fish you find in the water, smallies are the best at taking your bait without taking your hook with it.
If you have a hard time bringing in smallmouth bass, I have a nice treat for you. I’ve compiled research and commentary from some serious fishing experts to bring you this guide to smallmouth bass fishing.
Let’s dive right in!
Best Lures for Smallmouth Bass
First things first, the lure will not catch the fish. The angler catches the fish. But, having the right lure for the job does help. The thing with claiming that something is “the best” is, everyone has their own opinions on what works well, and it all depends on your fishing style. For me, I have a hard time working spinners so regardless of how well you say they are for catching bass, it won’t matter for me because I can’t finesse them properly.
Anyway, here are some of my favorite lures for bass fishing as well as some recommendations:
Something aggravates the ornery smallmouth into biting like a noisy rattle inside of this lure. You want to get their attention and make them angry; this will do the trick. The way that the rattle is positioned inside the chamber also makes it easy to walk the dog with this lure.
Okay, I know I said I’m not a fan of spinners, but this is a prize-winning lure that you’ll find all over the place during professional bass tournaments. Who am I to argue with success? The double willow blades provide the most vibration making it perfect after a heavy rainstorm in murky water.
You have a vast assortment of colors to choose from, and the lure comes with an extra sharp hook hidden well by the skirt.
You can never go wrong with old faithful right? One of my favorite lures is a simple power worm. These are great because they have built-in scents and flavors that smallmouth bass find irresistible. They come in a variety of different sizes and colors depending on the weather and situation on the water. Of course, since you don’t have any vibration or noise coming from the worm, it requires a bit more finesse and presentation on your end, but it’s worth it.
Similar to the power worm, these minnows also come with a built-in scent and taste. They look and taste like a real minnow, so it’s easy to present these to the smallies. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, and they have a texture that easily produces hungry strikes. Cast these out along weedy and overgrown areas, and you’ll have a ton of success in the morning.
Where to Fish Smallmouth Bass
Everyone has a different opinion on how to understand smallmouth bass. If you look up articles online about these fish, you will find everything from, “smallmouth are unpredictable” to “smallmouth are easily predictable.” No one has a true understanding of how these fish operate, and that is what makes the chase so much fun.
At the end of the day, there is no perfect location to catch smallies. You need to use your experience and a bit of common sense when fishing for bass. Early morning and late evening you want to troll the shoreline along low hanging trees, brush, docks, buildings, etc. Keep your eye out for anything out of the ordinary or something that could provide safe cover and fish there. Use the lures we recommended above for the most success.
If you have to fish more towards the middle of the day, the smallmouth will migrate towards cooler waters. This means you’ll have to go deeper.
At this time is when you might consider putting away your spinner and bringing out your worm. Throw a weight on there and let it sink. Around 20 feet deep is where you might find smallmouth bass during the middle of the day. If you have a fish finder, you want to pay attention to any significant changes in the water bed. If there is a sudden drop-off or a gulley that is where the fish will hang out during the middle of the day.
Lastly, if you’re fishing rivers and streams, you want to stay away from fast flowing water and turn towards stream pools where the water slows down, and the fish can hide out for a while. These areas are a breeding ground for smallmouth (literally), and you’ll have no problem catching them here. If you’re in a boat on a large river that doesn’t have stream pools you’re best bet is to troll the shoreline slowly using one of the baits recommended above.
Things to Avoid When Fishing for Smallmouth Bass
Everyone always talks about what you should do to catch a fish, but I’m going to take a different direction here and tell you exactly what not to do if you want to catch more smallmouth bass.
- Going Big – Everyone always hits the water to catch a trophy fish, and it’s not logical. Unless you are the luckiest person on Earth, you may never catch a trophy smallmouth as an amateur. So many of the professionals have a hard time reeling in a trophy smallie so just get out there to have fun and be realistic with your lures.
- Morning Only – So many people preach fishing the morning all the time, but you know the problem with fishing in the morning? It’s followed by late morning and afternoon when the fish stop biting. If you go out in the early evening around 6 pm you are setting yourself up for prime time fishing once the sun goes down. If you could stick it out till 11-12 o’clock, you’ll be in for the ride of your life.
- Bad Weather is Bad Fishing – It can’t get more wrong than this. It’s easy to look out your window and see rain and wind and think “forget it; we’ll try again tomorrow.” You would be doing yourself a major disservice by not throwing on a jacket and heading out anyway. Smallmouth bass love the bad weather and the worse it gets, the better. It might be cold and miserable outside, but you’ll be feeling warm and cozy when you bring in a big smallie.
Important Factors to Know About Smallmouth Bass
Here are a few tricks and tips learned from experience, research, and networking with other anglers. If you are a new angler or unsure about smallmouth bass, these tips will be useful to you. For you more experienced anglers, you most likely know all of this already.
What’s the difference?
Many people always wonder what the difference between the two species is. In terms of appearance, Largemouth bass have an upper jaw that extends past the eye with a greenish body and horizontal lines.
If you take a look at this photo courtesy of Fishingbooker.com you’ll see that Smallies have an upper jaw that is level with their eyes, and their body is brown with vertical lines. The two live in the same types of areas, but the major difference between them comes with the fight.
Smallmouth are known for putting up more of a fight and being more energetic off the hook. Largemouth bass also grow to a larger size.
When is peak season for smallies?
In April through June, you’ll find smallmouth bass congregating in shallow waters during their spawn season. This is the ideal time to catch them before they move into deeper waters when everything warms up in the summer. If you’re in the south, most fish will spend their time a few feet from the bottom of the lake.
Bringing it All Together
Smallmouth bass are an excitable and ornery fish. They do not take crap from anyone and will strike your lure with a force you’ve never felt before. Personally, they are one of my favorite fish to find at the end of my line. If you are looking to catch more smallies this year, utilize all the tips and tricks outlined in this article.
Be sure to leave us a comment and let us know what you think about smallmouth bass fishing in 2019. What lures are you using and where are you fishing?