This is even more apparent in some of our slack water reservoirs. Smallmouth relates much more to a sudden or rapid depth change than they do cover. When we fish for largemouth, we are all taught to fish brush piles and thick weed beds, but small mouth bass are more likely to be caught on a rock ledge that drops off quickly from about six to twelve feet.
When fishing in the reservoirs here such as Conowingo, or in the rivers like the Susquehanna, small mouths are sometimes caught shallow, but they are seldom more than 10-20 yards away from deep water.
Everywhere we go, we see the majority of bass anglers beating the shoreline, and as this may work for largemouth bass most of the time, if you are after big smallmouth bass, turn around and cast to the open water rather than beat the shore.
Unlike largemouth, smallmouth often group together by size. We found that if we were catching smaller fish, in the eleven to fourteen inch range, we rarely caught a big one in the same area.
On the other hand, when we caught a small mouth that was
About four or five pounds, many times there were several that size and even larger swimming right along with them. Big largemouth bass are loners, usually found by them on the best piece of structure, while larger smallmouth bass will often school together. There are several things that tell you that smallmouth bass are much better suited for strong current than largemouth. For one, their pointed noses and the sharp angle of their fins are indicators that they are more suited to current. They often get behind a rock or stump and rush out to feed.
Locating and then catching big smallmouth is a real challenge. That is why it is so much fun. Hopefully by reading some of these methods you have gained a better understanding of where these trophy fish go and what they are looking for, and of course, this will hopefully get you the fish of a lifetime.
The best method is to cast shallow and retrieve the lure slowly back towards the deeper water. Slowly is the key word here. In cold water, a slow, steady retrieve is deadly for big smallmouth.
When the water starts to get above 50 degrees, the smallmouth will start to move around the flats more. Some of the best spots for smallmouth don’t really look very good to the average angler that is used to fishing for largemouth. The better areas are just some pea gravel or some clay with maybe a stump or two, but fish these areas slowly now, and you will connect with a big smallmouth. Swimming a Yamamoto grub in these types of areas is absolutely deadly at these water temperatures. Keep working these areas slowly and don’t move too quickly, and you will hook one of the better smallmouth in the area.
Many times here in the northeast, we get a lot of heavy rains, which really muddies up the water such as the Susquehanna River and flats. This can really ruin a lot of the small mouth fishing, but finding clearer water can produce good fish even under these adverse conditions, as we proved earlier this year out on the flats. By searching out some clear water in the same type of areas, we connected with several big fish while we were hearing nothing but complaints from other anglers. In lakes or reservoirs, as well as the rivers, if you move to the back of creek arms and crank the advancing mud line, you can still connect with good fish.