Smallmouth Bass Fishing

The smallmouth bass is a member of the freshwater fish belonging to the sunsfish family. It is considered to be one of the most popular game fish preferred by anglers throughout the entire temperate zones of the North American continent. The smallmouth bass derives its name from the fact that the rear end of the lower jaw of the fish does not extend past the eye, while that of a largemouth does. The fish has been spread by stock to various cool-water tributaries as well as lakes in the United States of America. The smallmouth is native to middle and upper Mississippi River basin as well as the Saint Lawrence River-Great Lakes system and up into the Hudson Bay basin.

This type of bass has a generally brown color with red ears and dark brown vertical bands. In the dorsal fin, there are 13 to 15 soft rays. The upper jaw of the smallmouth can extend to the middle of the eye. Paradoxically, the male smallmouth is smaller in comparison to the female. While the male weights around two pounds, the female ranges around three to even six pounds. It is a known fact that their average size usually varies from case to case, usually depending upon the location of every fish. For example, the smallmouth found in the American waters is usually larger thanks to the longer summers which permit them to eat and grow for a larger period of time.

The smallmouth bass mature at the age of three or four and they live around 10 years, up to 12. The regular smallmouth seen by anglers is 8 up to 15 inches long with a weight under three pounds. Regarding their spawning activity, it begins in the spring when the water temperature reaches approximately 60 degrees F or a little bit more than that. The female smallmouth can lay up to a staggering 21,100 eggs which are carefully guarded in the nest by the male smallmouth. The mail smallmouth builds a nest in quiet waters, in most cases near the shore or downstream from an obstruction that causes a break in the current. Due to the fact that the male bass will protect the eggs at all time and the newly hatched fry, the nest is never too far from deep water or cover where he can easily retreat when scared. The smallmouth eggs which paradoxically are larger in comparison to the largemouth, hatch in two to about three days. Next, the freshly hatched light-colored fry drop down into the bottom of the gravel nest for another three days.

By the time they work their way out of the gravel on their ninth or tenth day, they have a very dark color. Under the strict supervision of the father smallmouth, they swim in a dense dark cloud over the nest for several days, and then they begin to disperse. For the first days, they eat micro crustaceans, but later on they start eating fish and insects once they begin growing in size.

The habitat of the smallmouth bass plays a crucial role in their shape, weight and color. For example, the smallmouth found in rivers among dark water has the tendency to be torpedo-shaped and with a dark brown color pattern so that it can be more efficient when feeding. On the contrary, the smallmouth bass that lives in lakeside areas, usually those that live in sandy areas have the tendency to be a light yellow brown in order to fully adapt to the environment in a defensive state and are more oval shaped.

Speaking of the habitat, the smallmouth bass is usually found in clearer waters in comparison to its bigger cousin, the largemouth, especially in streams, rivers as well as rocky areas and sandy bottoms of reservoirs and lakes. They usually prefer cooler water temperatures (approximately 68 to 70 Fahrenheit degrees) in comparison to the largemouth and they can be spotted both in moving and still water. Being an intolerant to pollution, the smallmouth bass is a good natural indicator of how healthy a specific environment is although it can easily adjust to changes in water condition in comparison to most of the trout species.

The smallmouth basses diet usually consists of insects, smaller fish and crayfish. Nowadays, the smallmouth bass is quite popular among fisherman in the United States, frequently sought by anglers that use the conventional spinning and bait casting gear not to mention the fly fishing tackle. Regarding the population, besides the wild ones, they are “stocked” in cool lakes and rivers throughout the United States as well as Canada. The smallmouth bass is considered to be a wary fish in shallow streams although not as much as the most species of the trout. This type of bass is highly regarded for its topwater fight capabilities when hooked. More than that, the old fishing journals referred to this type of fish as “ounce for ounce and pound for pound the gamest fish that swims”.

Speaking of catching the smallmouth bass, they can be lured with artificial and natural baits like hair jigs, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic jerkbaits. Many fisherman use the following baits quite efficiently: minnows, leeches, bloodworms, crayfish and nightcrawlers. For river fishing enthusiasts, fly tackle or spinning tackle have been most efficient angling tools for this type of fish for the last several years.