Smallmouth bass fishing can be the most aggressive fishing action there is. The smallmouth bass is abundant in most northern lakes and the pounding nature they fight with makes them a fun species for beginner bass anglers and experienced anglers alike. They are extremely active at certain times of the year and can be caught year round. However, you have to present the correct lures and fish them with an appealing presentation to get bites.
Fundamental Smallmouth Bass Lures
Smallmouth bass can be caught on a wide variety of baits and lures, but there are several lures that are tried and true for catching fish. These fundamental smallmouth bass lures have been successful for catching fish for a long time. You can break them up into 2 distinct categories related to the type of forage your lure is mimicking. The two main imitations for smallmouth bass are crawfish and bait fish. If your bait looks anything like a crawfish or a bait fish, you are in business.
When smallmouth bass are in rock and wood cover, they are likely feeding on crawfish. These lobster-like creatures are candy for bass. Lures such as jigs, tubes, and grubs are the best baits for fishing around rocks, boulders, brush piles and stumps. A football jig is a tried and true bait for catching smallmouth. Pair the jigs rubber skit with a crawfish plastic trailer or grub to provide lifelike action. Drag the jig around boulders and other rock areas that are holding fish. Another productive bait for smallmouth bass fishing is a tube or a grub on its own. These soft plastic baits are rigged on jig heads and are fished at various depths. Another great option is a lipless crankbait. This is a faster moving bait, fished in rocks and dragged along the bottom, it mimics crawfish on the go.
As for bait fish, there are several productive baits and techniques that will work. Reaction baits such as spinnerbaits and crankbaits are perfect. These bait styles are great for covering water and looking for fish. Make a lot of casts and vary your presentation by changing the speed of your retrieve. You can quickly move from shallow to deep water and find where the fish are. To slow down and fish around cover, use a dropshot rig with a shad type plastic. Another popular bait fish type lure is a jerkbait. A jerkbait is a reaction type lure that is fished slower, with quick rips of the rod. The darting action acts like a wounded baitfish and is great in the spring and fall, or when smallmouth are schooling.
Best Live & Artificial Bait for Smallmouth Bass
To say that there is a best bait for smallmouth bass would be tough. They are extremely aggressive and can be targeted with almost any of the above lures and techniques. When it comes to live bait, the more lively, the better chance of getting a bite. Using live bait on smallmouth bass is like giving candy to a baby. They can hardly resist. The three-best live baits are minnows, crawfish, and leaches. All 3 will get bites. The best overall artificial smallmouth bass fishing lure lure is the tube bait. It is so versatile and catches fish all over the country. You can fish the tube bait around shallow cover or in deeper water with success. It is very effective to make long casts and bounce or drag the tube along the bottom.
How to Fish for Smallmouth Bass
Fishing for smallmouth bass is directly related to water temperatures and the time of year. In the early spring, they will move to secondary points in preparation for the spawn. Smallmouth will spawn anywhere from 1-foot of water out to 20-feet at a typical range of 5-10 feet. After the spawn, they will stage in 8-10-feet and recover before moving into their summer pattern. Smallies will move to deeper water for the summer and even deeper before their fall transition. 20-30-feet and deeper is not uncommon for smallmouth bass during the hot months. In late summer they will be hanging on off-shore structure related to baitfish. Come fall, smallmouth will move back to shallower water and start to feed for winter. Smallmouth will stay incredibly active from 1-foot to 20-feet for a hot fall bite until temps drop below 45 degrees and they move deep for the winter.
Tips for Catching Smallies
Even though they are easy to catch, smallmouth are difficult to find. Smallies move on a daily basis outside of spawn. There are several tips for smallmouth bass fishing that will help you as an angler. Keep an open mind while fishing for smallies and be comfortable changing location, depth and water bottom. Do not solely rely on previous spots, rather adjust to the fishing conditions each day. Smallmouth bass are extremely bait oriented. If you find baitfish or the crayfish, smallies are nearby. Slow down and employ a more finesse technique with a spinning combo when the bite is tough. A go to productive technique that will get bites when nothing else will is a wacky rig. The slow tantalizing fall of a stick bait is irresistible to smallmouth bass.