Fishing Tips & Tactics for Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass Small mouth bass fishing is some of the most exciting action to be had. It is hard to beat the challenge of battling a nice small mouth as it twirls and tail dances through the air on its way into a fisherman's boat.

Small mouth fishing the Crystal Lake area is very good throughout the year. Spring is good as the bass are in their pre-spawn and spawn patterns and can be readily caught very shallow. Late May through June is the spawn period. The smaller male bass are up shallow early making, and defending the beds against any threat. Spinner baits can work in many instances, however plastics and live bait is extremely effective because it can stay in the strike zone near the beds for a longer period of time. One of our favorites is the Zoom fluke 51/2" in the albino color. An un-weighted fluke drifting over a small mouth's bed is guaranteed to instigate a strike almost 100% of the time. Jig combinations near a bass's bed will also cause them to strike, primarily not because they are feeding, but to move the lure away from the bed and prevent it from danger form the intruder. Leeches, crawlers, and minnows will work excellent for bass also. The large female small mouth will feed well in the pre-spawn period, but tend to be lethargic during the actual spawn. Often you will be able to spot a large spawning female, but nothing in your lure selection will trigger her to strike. By late June the spawn is usually over and the bass start to transition into their summer patterns.

June tends to bring warmer weather and more sunlight, which means submergent vegetation becomes to show. Once these weed lines begin to establish themselves, schooling baitfish seek the vegetation for cover, hence followed by large schools of feeding, post-spawn small mouth bass. Action along these weed lines can be fast and furious throughout the entire day. Prime locater lures include twitch minnow baits, spinners such as Mepps, and safety pin style spinner baits that can be worked a little faster to cover a lot of water. If the fish are active on these faster moving lures, keep throwing them. Top water lures, usually in the mid-morning hours is excellent on calm mornings. Any lure that floats and can cause ripples can be good when the water is glass-calm. If action tends to slow down, try using bass jigs and plastic twitch/glider baits such as Zoo's flukes. Again, live bait works well year round for the small mouth too. Sometimes though, the action can be so fast that it is actually a small hassle trying to keep live bait on the hook!! If the fish are not located up in the vegetation patches, move out to the deeper weed line edges, or even try going to some rock shelves and points. The bass may move in and out of the weeds all day long. Crank baits can be an excellent selection, especially along these deeper edges. Rapala Shad Raps and Berkley Frenzy crank baits in are excellent producers in this deeper water.

As late August rolls around, many of the vegetative weed lines are dying off due to cooling temperatures. As these weeds slowly die, the fearful baitfish that have been depending on the weeds for cover and plankton all summer start to disperse out of the dying weeds and usually move out a little deeper around rock piles, or may even suspend in schools in the main lake basin. As the baitfish move out, the small mouth will follow. A prime method for finding these bass in our waters is trolling deep lipped crank baits. Long, slender, diving crank baits that dive from 12-30' are very good choices for fishing these deep smallies. Don't be surprised to pick up a large northern pike or walleye while trolling this deep water as many species of fish forage on these schooling baitfish. Storm makes a 15'+ and a 25'+ deep diver that works excellent at this time. Also Rapala Husky Jerks and larger Shad Raps are very effective. Minnow colored crank baits and pearl colored (whites) are favored color choices. These deep-water bass will stay schooled out deep all day long, and move up and down following the baitfish.

Recommended Tackle:

6-71/2' spinning rod/reel combos with 6-12lb line
6-71/2' bait casting combos with 12-15lb line for fishing around and in vegetation


Variety of crank baits - Rapala Shad Raps, Husky Jerks - shallow and deep diving, Storm Thundersticks, Berkley Frenzy lures, Rapala floating minnows for twitching the weed tops
Many different plastics will work for smallies. Twister tails, Zoom and Black Magic Flukes in whites, albino and pearl colors, Texas rigged plastic worms
Rubber skirted bass jigs tipped with pork rinds, Jigs tipped with twister tails or live bait in 1/8-3/8 ounces.
Spinner baits in black, white, and chartreuse - blade style can usually vary
Most top water lures - Smithwick Devil's Horse, Pop-R, ect.