Smallmouth Bass Habitat - Part 2
Successful fly fishing strategies for smallmouth bass requires a knowledge of
where the fish lives and the types of habitat it prefers. In general this is clear,
clean water but of course, that's only a starting requirement. They live in both
streams and lakes but you want find them in small ponds unless they are very
deep. Even lakes that are shallower than 25 feet rarely hold smallmouth bass.
In the northern part of the United States, smallmouth bass prefer water ranging
from 67 to 71 degrees F. You will rarely find them in water over 80. In the
southern states, smallmouth are known to live in water ranging from 78 to 84
degrees F. The reason this is common is that the deep, cool water in most
southern lakes doesn't have enough oxygen for the smallmouth. Smallmouth
bass will feed very little in water temperatures below 50 degrees. At 40 degrees,
you will find them almost inactive.
Oxygen plays a role with the smallmouth bass that's different from largemouth.
The largemouth can tolerate an oxygen content of 2.0 parts per million but the
smallmouth can't. It needs at least 2.5. Both feeding and the growth of
smallmouth bass is reduced in water of less than 5.0 parts per million.
One thing that's different in smallmouth and largemouth bass is their preference
for current. Smallmouth prefer moderate current. It is a little slower than that
preferred by trout, but faster than that preferred by largemouth bass. You can
just about always count on more smallmouth being in pools with current than
those without any current. Lakes that hold smallmouth will usually be found near
the mouths of rivers or creeks with some current. If this doesn't exist, you can just
about count on them being more active where wind is adding some current.
Water clarity is very important and much different from that largemouth bass will
tolerate. They will tolerate murky water for a short period of time, but they won't
live in water that stays murky. If the visibility is less than a foot on the average,
you can rest assured you won't find smallmouth bass.
One of the most important habitat features is the type of bottom the stream or
lake has. The preferred bottom is clean rock and gravel. One reason it it
generally has crayfish, dragonfly and hellgrammites. If the lake or river has sandy
areas of bottom, the smallmouth will often hold there but there's usually rock and
gravel nearby. The sandy type bottoms hold baitfish and that also can be
important food for the smallmouth. The prefer sandy bottoms with some
vegetation but not lots of it. Sparse areas of vegetation is preferred.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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