One Man's Passion
If you are the type of fisherperson who likes a challenge now and then but aren’t sure what to fish for, I would probably suggest Smallmouth Bass. Why you might ask? For many dyed-in-the-wool fishermen, including myself, we like light line fishing, meaning using spinning rods and 6 and 8-pound test plus fighting a fish that can pull hard and test your skills. Smallmouth are not nearly as plentiful or easy to find but they are plain awesome. These fish are unique in some ways and yet not so far apart from the Largemouth species.
Largemouths have dominated bass fishing for the last 40 years. An entire industry has grown and flourished because of this one fish. Millions of dollars every year is spent traveling around the country, including Mexico. Specialty equipment, lures, boats, etc., have been developed specifically to chase this fish. Sadly, Smallmouths have taken a back seat to his bigger cousin. They are considered transplants to the west from back east in the late 1800’s. Since then Smallmouth fishing has grown in popularity, but in fewer locations than the Largemouth Bass. In fact, most Smallmouth have been introduced to new water by sport anglers who appreciated the fish but simply got tired of driving so far to fish for them.
In the east, Smallmouth bass are respected and revered, however out west where trophy Largemouth Bass fishing has been all the rage they have been somewhat ignored. Pound for pound, a Smallmouth will out-pull a Largemouth any day. The issue is that a Smallmouth does not, on average, get bigger than 5 to 8 pounds. Largemouth can top the scales at 24 to 25 pounds. The old adage bigger is better has been true for most anglers.
If you have ever had the pleasure to catch a Smallie on light tackle, it is pure joy and fun. They will make hard head shakes and dig for the bottom of the lake, once near the surface they will jump and fight until they are in your hand. For me, I would rather catch one Smallmouth versus four Largemouth any day. Again, these fish are in fewer lakes and tend to be shy at times so when you do find them it is a special moment. I know many bass anglers and believe me they get more excited over a Smallie than ole bucket mouth (unless of course it is an eight plus pounder). I tend to use what may be considered heavy trout gear for these fish, sometimes even going down to 4 or 5 pound test in an area as long as it doesn’t have too many rocks, underwater brush or trees.
Most of the time I use soft plastics and a jig head to lure a Smallie to hit. A 1/16 ounce dart head and four inch worm will do the trick around structure. Drop shotting with the same style worm just off the bottom will get most fish curious enough to have a look. Small crank baits and spinner baits work great when fish are active and feeding. The hits on a crank or spinner bait can be so hard you think they were trying to rip the rod out of your hands. One thing about Smallies is that they like cooler water, so when fall comes and the Largemouth becomes less active, Smallmouth are still on the go, ready to eat and party.
If you do Bass fish and have used top water lures you know the thrill of a fish coming to the surface to blow up on your lure. Nothing in fishing is more exciting and fun than having a bass just clobber your lure and do a back flip attempting kill your offering. It doesn’t matter what type of surface bait you choose to throw nor what type of fish it is, this is the pinnacle of lure fishing. I have seen many a grown man act like a kid when it happens. Try them, they never disappoint!