Smallmouth Bass

Best Way to Catch a Smallmouth Bass

The Smallmouth bass is the most powerful of the six black bass subspecies and supports a slender but very muscular body. With its distinctive dark brown bars that run parallel to its body and its signature dorsal fins, the smallmouth range in color from brown to olive green in color.

These predatory fish are masters of ambush and are well camouflaged in their environment. They are torpedo-shaped and are very fast swimmers allowing them to live in the constantly flowing waters of rivers.

Smallmouth bass is a heavily sought-after adversaries of many anglers due to their ability to fight harder than any other of the bass species. Males are typically no more than a few pounds, but the females grow much larger weighing in at up to six pounds.

Profile – (Micropterus Dolomieu)

The Smallmouth Bass

One of six subspecies of the black bass, the smallmouth is one of the most well-known of the group. Given the nickname of smallies, this species is far from that, with the females weighing in at up to six pounds and at length maxing at about thirty inches. Pound for pound the smallmouth will put up a fight that you can’t find with any other bass species.

Small Mouth Diet

As a predator with an appetite greater than they are, this species can and will devour almost anything they consider food. As young fry, they will eat small insects and crustaceans. As they grow into larger predators, they will hunt down crayfish, minnows, tadpoles, and sculpins. Smallmouth will hunt during the daytime but during the hot months of summer, they will resort to nighttime dining.

The Spawn

As with their Larger cousin the Largemouth, the smallmouth bass (male) will build their spring nest at shallow depths at around ten feet to attract females in to lay their eggs. The male will then fertilize the offspring giving it life. It then will spend many days guarding the nest until they have hatched. Smallmouths will often nest close to the same location as they had the previous year.


This diverse predator can be found from the great lake’s region to as far south as Arkansas to its western region of Oklahoma. Although its range has been expanded to the eastern seaboard and a few other nations, its native range is restricted to the mid-west and slightly further south. Although the smallmouth can be found in lakes its favorite place to hunt and live are within the cooler water of flowing rivers and their banks.


Most anglers consider this bass species to be quite tasty with a firm texture to the meat. The slight fishy flavor can easily be covered or absorbed with your favorite batter or simply by soaking the meat in milk. Catching your daily limit of these fish can feed a large family with a variety of recipes out there. They are one of the best to eat.

Angling for Small Mouth

Now that we have located and identified our smallmouth, we can begin to prepare for a day on the river or lake. As with their larger cousin the largemouth, there are a handful of favorite lures and types of baits that are needed to catch these beautiful fish. Usually found under tree cover, rocks, and heavily weeded areas, smallmouth can be caught with anything from soft plastic worms, jerk baits, buzz baits, and more. If you’re fishing faster-moving waters, you will want to consider upping your test strength in your line as well.

  • Buzz Bait – These lures are one of the best lures for fishing due to their ability to sink on their own and still provide a flashing display of colors to attract the fish. These lures are relatively weedless and work well in fast-moving waters making them lethal.
  • Crank Bait – As with other black bass species these lures remain a target favorite among anglers because of their versatility in all settings. Selecting the right one may be a challenge as there are endless varieties. A medium to deep depth crankbait can put you right where you need to be when targeting these fish. Choose a nice gold Rapala to get started.
  • Hair Jigs – These lures are a bit more simplistic but still very effective when fishing calm waters such as lake bottoms and eddies. Sink the jig to the bottom of the lake and give it a slight jerk towards the surface and then let it sink again repeating this process until you have another smallie in your net.
  • Spin bait – Similar to our crankbaits mentioned above these attractive lures are almost guaranteed to hook you a few of these fish. They are flashy and attractive to the goal fish and are very simple to use. You can use any type of reel or rod with these. Casting into the water while slowly reeling them back in. It’s just a matter of casting in the right place with one of these deadly lures.
  • Fly fishing Jigs – These diversely caught fish can even be caught fly fishing. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the preferred methods here in the United States. Attaching an artificial fly jig, larger crawfish, or leech lure on the end of a fly rod, is a relaxing and surefire way to haul in a pile of small mouths.

Rod and Reel choices

When choosing a rod and reel there are a few critical things to consider. Action speed and sensitivity are two important aspects. You can make it easy and pick up a simple Ugly Stik just about anywhere and for the everyday novice fisherman, this will get the job done just fine. However, if you’re looking for the best there is, the cream of the crop types of setups like a six-foot, ten-inch to seven-foot medium to lightfast to extra-fast action rod with a low drag reel will really set you up nicely. Top anglers suggest a 2000 to 2500 series reel loaded with a high visibility line at about a ten-pound test strength.

What to look for?

Smallmouth bass is a natural indicator of the quality of their environment. They do not tolerate dirty polluted waters. So, when in search of the aggressive smallmouth keep this in the forefront of your mind.

A few other things to remember is the smallmouth much prefers the cooler faster moving waters of flowing rivers, especially where they drop out into eddies. In lakes, look for downed trees and rocky sandy areas, as they don’t care for the murky muddy areas where the largemouth can be found.

Keep their diet in mind as well. They love to eat insects and their larvae. Crayfish remains at the top of their diet. Smallmouths will eat during the day, especially early mornings and in the evenings. Warmer months of summer will lead them to switch to a nighttime diet. Smallmouth like largemouth maintains a reliable and constant diet throughout the season, keeping them at the top of the list for novice and professional anglers alike.

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