top of page

Smallmouth Bass

Micropterus dolomieu

Average Size: 12-16 inches

Average Weight: 2 lbs.

The smallmouth bass is a ferocious fighter that leaps out of the air and has fast runs. They are aggressive and very fun to catch.


Smallmouth bass are an aggressive hard fighting member of the black bass family. Bronze in color, varying from near black on their back to white on the belly gives away their place in the food chain. Adult small mouth feed primarily on crayfish, small baitfish and insects are also typical food for smallmouth bass which are opportunistic feeders. Smallmouths thrive in rocky lakes from Maine to Minnesota and rivers from Maine to Washington. Smallmouth spawn in the spring (March-May) when the water temperature rises to between 59 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The males build the nests and are usually smaller than the females.


Smallmouth Bass prefer sandy, rocky bottoms, moderately to clear lakes and rivers. Smallmouth bass need deeper lakes, some studies say a depth of at least 25 feet. They also require well oxygenated water so they are unlikely to be found in lakes with dense vegetation. These requirements make glacial spring fed lakes and their tributaries ideal for smallmouth bass. Smallmouth Bass prefer water temperature to be between 67 and 71 degrees but can tolerate temperatures as low as 40 degrees and as high as 77 degrees. Smallmouth bass will school where crayfish are most likely to be present, in rock piles. Rocky sandy bottoms or large piles of rocks should be the first place to look for smallmouth bass.



As smallmouth bass mainly feed on crayfish, one of the best ways to target them is by mimicking crayfish. This can be done by using a bait like the clackin crayfish to soft baits shaped like crayfish to a buckeye jig. When jigging for smallmouth it is a combination of casting and jigging, you want to "walk" the jig back to the boat, making it skit around the bottom like a crayfish would. A quick retrieve of a stall and a few twitches works very well. Jigging works very well when the smallmouth are in deep water as well as when working deep rock piles or flats. Jigging live bait such as minnows or worms when they are suspended or not responding to artificial baits are a great way to bring in the big smallies.


Casting for smallmouth is my favorite technique to go after them. They will hit almost anything from surface lures to jerkbaits. Casting into rocky shore or around rock piles is the best casting technique for a smallmouth. In the spring, using a jerk bait that goes about 5-7 feet deep is a good choice when using the long pause jerking technique. Retrieve for a few rotations of the reel, jerk it and then let the bait float for 5-10 seconds before continuing the retrieve. When casting topwater, make sure it makes a commotion on the surface, smallmouth will instinctively attack the splashing on the surface. I have had smallmouth go after CiscoKids, typically a musky bait.

More reliable in the casting department are spoons and inline spinners like the Aglia 3. Inline spinners have a similar shape to crayfish and insects in the water and are great lures to use while targeting smallmouth. Spoons are another great choice when casting for smallmouth, smaller spoons flutter and flash like minnow. I have found that a steady to fast continuous retrieve is the best for smallmouths. Many times smallmouth will hit very soon after the lure hits the water or when the lure goes over the structure.

Bring Em' on In

Bringing in a smallmouth can be very exciting. Known for acrobatic jumps and powerful runs, playing a smallmouth well is incredibly important. Keeping the line tight and the rod tip down will help prevent shake offs when the bass jumps and tries to shake itself free. Another important note to remember is to keep it from getting back into the structure, once it is hooked it will try to get back into the rocks or trees that it was hiding in and getting it away from there and closer to the boat or shore is very important when trying to get the bass into the boat.

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Big Eyes

bottom of page