Where to find Smallmouth Bass each season of the year
Smallmouth Bass change their locations in lakes and rivers during the year. They
have specific seasonal movement patterns. In terms of the area of the river or
lake, this could be short migrations in the same general areas, or longer
migrations of up to miles. It depends on the type of water.
Smallmouth bass are rather inactive until the water reaches about 50 degrees
but that doesn't mean you can't catch them. They can be caught in water in the
high thirties and low forties but they want move over a few inches to take a fly. It
has to be right in front of their nose. When the water gets about 50 degrees they
will start moving towards their spawning areas. In streams, this migration can start
at a lower water temperature. They bass feed well during this period of time.
The smallmouth spawn in the same areas year after year. Once you find them
spawning in a particular lake or stream, you can be assured they will be there in
future years. That will change only if major changes take place in the water or
habitat. The exact locations depends greatly on the type of water.
The smallmouth move to nearby deeper water once the spawn has ended. For a
short period of time, they don't feed at all, but then within a day or two, they feed
very aggressively. This doesn't mean they are easy to catch. Finding them can
be more difficult than it is at other times. Again, it greatly depends on the type of
Summertime is the easiest time to find smallmouth bass. They reside in the same
areas from year to year. Once you find them during the Summer, in a pool or a
stream, you can be assured they will be there again the next year. They will hold
on the same structure in a lake, year after year. If crayfish are present, their
location is almost always related to rocks because that's their favorite food. They
usually hold on the same structure until Fall. It can last all the way from the post
spawn period until the weather cools the water in the Fall.
Depth is 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 35 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 4 feet deep because
there may not be any deeper water for them to hold. 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. They often
feed at night in clear lakes and streams during the Summer.
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 crawfish 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.
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, or 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 very easy to fish.
Although all of the above information is general and depends on the water,
hopefully, it gives you a good idea of the seasonal changes in the smallmouth's
location during the changing seasons.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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