Along with the arrival of cooler fall weather and the changing color of the leaves come more opportunities to land a feisty smallmouth bass. Smallmouth bass prefer cooler waters than the largemouth bass, and can be found in nearly every state except Florida, Louisiana and Alaska. While water temperatures and techniques will vary somewhat depending on the part of the country you plan to fish, there are several tips that can help you identify lake, creek or river waters that are likely to hold smallmouth bass.
1. Look for clear, clean water. Smallmouth bass habitats generally consist of waters that have clarity at a depth of at least 1 foot or more. You will rarely find them in waters that are cloudy or muddy for the majority of the year.
2. Look for light cover and a rocky bottom. The crayfish and insect larvae that smallmouth like to feed on are most often found beneath small or broken rocks, so smallmouth bass associate these types of areas with a consistent food source. When fishing lakes during the fall months, keep an eye out for points with break lines and rock piles.
3. Look for water temperature ranges in the upper 60’s. Although the smallmouth bass is considered to be a warm water fish, its ideal temperature range is lower than that of the largemouth bass. Smallmouth tend to favor waters between 67 to 71 degrees. When water temperatures dip below 50 degrees, feeding slows and the fish aren’t eager to bite.
4. Look for fall smallmouth in water depths of about 10 to 25 feet. As the water temperature drops and winter approaches, the fish will go deeper and you’ll need to slow your retrieve.
5. Look for areas with noticeable current when fishing a river or stream. Smallmouth have a preference for moderate current, and will often take cover behind rocks or logs in these areas so that they can ambush prey. Keep in mind though, that once water temperatures drop below about 55 degrees, river smallmouth have a tendency to leave areas of moderate current for slower moving waters as their metabolic rate also slows down.
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