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Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Updated on November 1, 2014

Smallmouth Bass

This page has smallmouth bass information, including descriptions, fishing techniques, images and artwork.

Typically smaller and somewhat darker than largemouth bass, these bass have a dedicated following of anglers.

Smallmouth are known for their ability to leap and run when hooked, which makes them favorite fish of fly fishing enthusiasts.

Smallmouth bass are also known as red eye bass, brown bass or bronzebacks.

A 27-inch long smallmouth bass caught in Kentucky weighed 11 pounds, 15 ounces, making it the all-tackle world record for the species.

Where to Find Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass are found in eastern rivers, usually over rocky or gravel bottoms, where they prey on crayfish and other invertibrates. River smallmouths orient to pools and ledges during the cooler months, but may seek out grass beds or other environments in summer.

In lakes, smallmouth bass tend to move to deeper water as the water warms up. They are known for orienting to structure and shade. Other lake structure where smallmouths often lurk include sunken bars, submerged islands, points, along ledges, deeper grass and weed beds when forage is available.

Shallows with slow-moving water along the river edges provide nursery habitats for baby smallmouth bass. “Nursery microhabitats are places for young fish to avoid predators and avoid the swift currents of the main channel of the River. Our work demonstrates that these nursery areas often have oxygen levels that are lower and more stressful than those in the swifter-moving and deeper waters of the main channel where the adult fish live,” said U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Jeff Chaplin

smallmouth bass
smallmouth bass

Live Baits for Smallmouth Bass

Live baits for smallmouth bass, include crayfish, crickets, nightcrawlers, minnows and other baits. These vary with season and location. Fishermen choose live baits depending on availability and personal preference. Some anglers will find live baits in local tackle shops while others need to catch their own. Land dwelling baits such as grubs, worms, grasshoppers and crickets can be caught just before the trip.

Crayfish, also known as crawfish, crawdad and other local names are favorite baits for smallmouth. Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters. About 390 species of crayfish are found in North America, most ranging from 1-4 inches in length. The majority of crayfish species occur east of the Rocky Mountains and in the Southeastern states. Crayfish are sometimes available under rocks along the shoreline, or in shallow streams near productive fishing spots.

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