Where To Find Smallmouth Bass
Where you find Smallmouth bass depends greatly on the type of water you are fishing and the time of the year, and even the time
of day. Smallmouth bass change their locations in lakes and rivers throughout the year and sometimes, throughout the day. They
have specific seasonal movement patterns. Depending on the type of lake, river or stream, this could be short movements within
the same general areas, or long migrations of up to several miles. It also depends on the food they rely on to survive, light
penetration, cover, and water temperature.
Much of their movement is controlled by water temperature. Keep in mind, water temperature is also a big factor is the movement
and seasonal patterns of baitfish and other foods the smallmouth feed on as well as themselves. The bass are not very active
when the water temperature is under about forty-five degrees. That's not to say you can't catch them when the water temperature
is less than that, because you can. They can be caught in water with temperatures that are in the high thirties and low forties, but
they generally won't move over a few inches to take a fly. The presentations required to catch them in cold water slows things
down. The fly needs to be presented right in front of their nose. When the water is cold, they are usually found in deeper water
than they otherwise would be found in. Presenting a fly you can't see, to fish you can't see, and getting it right in front of their nose,
isn't an easy task. The presentation takes a lot of time and the resulting action is usually slow.
In the Spring, when the water gets to about fifty degrees Fahrenheit, they will start moving towards their spawning areas.
Smallmouth found in streams may start this migration at a lower water temperature. These pre-spawn bass feed well during this
period of time. In fact, just prior to the spawn is usually about the easiest time to catch them. To know where to find smallmouth
during the spawn, you have to be familiar with the type of water and bottom composition they spawn in, and know where to find it
within the lake or stream you are fishing. They spawn in the same areas year after year. Once you find them spawning in a certain
area of a particular lake or stream, you can rest assured they will be there in future years. The only thing that may change from
year to year, is a major change in the water and/or habitat, and although possible, that's rather unusual. The exact spawning
locations always depends greatly on the type of water and the lake or stream's bottom composition. During the actual spawning
activity, neither the males or females feed very much, if at all. They are very aggressive and territorial and can be caught on flies,
but they do so to move or destroy what they perceive as an intruder, not to eat.
Once the spawn ends, the post-spawn smallmouth move to nearby deeper water. For a short period of time after the spawning
activity is finished, they don't feed very much at all. However, within a day or two, after adjusting to a completely different mode,
they usually feed very aggressively. This doesn't mean they are easy to catch, because finding them can be more difficult than it is
at other times. Again, it greatly depends on the type of water. For example, locating them in a small stream is quite different and far
less challenging than locating them in a large lake or reservoir, or even a large river.
Generally, the easiest time to find smallmouth bass is during the summer. They usually reside in the same areas from year to year.
Once you find them during the Summer, in a pool in a small stream, or on a ledge in a large lake, you can be assured they will be
there again the next year. In a lake, they will hold on the same structure, year after year.
If crayfish are present, the location of smallmouth is almost always related to rocks, because crayfish is their favorite food. They
usually hold on the same structure until Fall. This behavior can last all the way from the post spawn period until the weather cools
the water in the Fall.
Depth is always critically important, but the smallmouth bass holding areas vary greatly with the type of water. For example, in
deep, very clear reservoirs and lakes, this may be as deep as thirty-five feet. In a lake that's commonly dingy, this may be only ten
to twelve feet deep. If it's a small stream, this may only be four feet deep because there may not be any deeper water for them to
hold in. In these cases, they always choose the deeper water. The smallmouth will leave the deep water to feed, but only in nearby
areas, and only under low, light conditions. The clearer the water, the more less likely they will venture shallow to feed during
daylight hours. In clear lakes and streams during the Summer, they often feed during the night.
In the early Fall months, the smallmouth may remain in the same exact locations, but move more often to shallow water to feed.
Baitfish and crayfish are more prevalent in shallower water at this time and the smallmouth bass will move there to feed on them.
This also greatly depends on the amount of light. In bright light conditions, the smallmouth will tend to stay in their normal holding
pattern. They will move around far more during low, light conditions.
In the northern lakes and deep water southern lakes, as the upper water column cools off and becomes the same temperature as
the lower column of water, the lake will begin to turn over, meaning the water near the surface will become cooler than the deep
water. While it's near the same temperature, top and bottom, it makes finding the trout more difficult.
In the late Fall and Winter months, the smallmouth bass move to deeper water. They will come in the shallows to follow baitfish
when the water warms up from a period of warm weather, but otherwise, they remain in the deep water. Again, this is controlled
more so by light than temperature. In dingy lakes this may be 12 to 15 feet and in deep lakes, as deep as 35 feet. Of course,
catching smallmouth bass on the fly becomes much more difficult in deep water. Sinking lines must be used and they are not as
easy to fish as floating fly lines.
Although all of the above information is general and depends on the water, hopefully, it gives you a good idea of the smallmouth's
location during the changing seasons.
Where To Find Smallmouth
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