Fish Identification: Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass

Characteristics: A smallmouth bass is a close cousin of the largemouth bass. However, unlike the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass are usually a little more brownish greenish in color and they have vertical bands along their sides not a large long black band like the largemouth bass. Again, like the largemouth bass they can range from a pale brownish green to a darker brownish green based on their environment and their food source. One of the best ways to differentiate a smallmouth vs. largemouth is that in a smallmouth the upper jaw will not extend beyond its eye, when its mouth is closed. They can range in size, but a fully grown smallmouth can be anywhere from 10-20 inches long from head to tail and can be 1-6 pounds.

How to handle: Smallmouth bass are a great fighting fish. For their size they are one of the most exciting fish to catch. When they hammer your bait during their feeding season you will know that you have a fighter on your line. As you reel them in they will usually come up to the surface and jump out of the water, making for a very exciting fight. In terms of actually handling them once you get them in the boat or to shore, the can be handled the exact same way as a largemouth bass. They too do not have sharp teeth so you can easily pull your bait/hooks out of their mouth without the need for pliers. Again, be mindful of their fins as they can jab you in the finger. When you do have them in your hand make sure you hold them securely as they will continue their fight even when they are out of the water.

Where to find them: Smallmouth bass may be a close cousin of the largemouth bass, but they live in different waters. They prefer to hang out in deeper waters, streams, and rivers. Usually a rocky or sandy bottom of a lake will yield these little fighters and even sometimes they will seek shelter in amongst the structure of fallen trees. They prefer very clear and clean waters so if you catch one it is usually a good indication that the water you are fishing is very clean. Just like the largemouth bass their season is usually early summer to late fall. Check your local regulations to find out when smallmouth bass season is open in your neck of the woods.

How to catch them: Since they are similar to largemouth bass they will go after similar food sources. However, as they tend to live in deeper water top water lures are not very effective for these guys. The best method to catch them is by using a crank bait, spinner bait, or tubes and jigs that you bounce in and around the bottom of a lake. In recent years many fishermen are using tubes as their go to bait in the Great Lakes region to catch monster smallmouth bass. The reason behind this is due to the invasive species of the goby. Fishermen will usually match a tube that is similar in color and size to a goby and will just jig that off the side of their boat to target the smallmouth bass. This is one instance where the introduction of the goby has seen the native species of the smallmouth boom. Gobies help clean up the water but in doing so they also ingest a lot of pollution and in turn when the smallmouth bass eat them they too ingest this pollution. So it is not necessarily a win win situation for us anglers, but do yourself a favor and definitely get out there and try to land one of these monsters.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass #2