Summer Smallmouth

Find 55 degree water in the spring, tie on a jig, jerkbait, topwater plug, spinner or a soft plastic bait and you’re in business. With the arrival of the summer solstice sometimes accompanied by low waters, occasional rain and rising surface temperatures and the brown bass seem to disappear. Reservoir, river or stream smallmouth can be elusive during the third quarter of the calendar year.


Knowing that smallies aren’t like their distant cousins the largemouth bass is the first clue to solving the summer puzzle. Where largemouth will set up shallow almost any time of the year, smallmouth seek deeper (deeper being a relative term) water and cooler temperatures when and where available. The other draw for the feisty smallmouth is an abundant supply of crawfish and a staple of their diet shad. Like most bass if they can catch it and fits in their mouth they’ll eat it. Fair game are frogs, insects, plus minnows of all sizes and descriptions. This is another tip off as to what to launch at the state fish of Tennessee, also the home of the long standing world record. Having visited Canada over two dozen trips for the express purpose of tangling with smallmouth bass, with a side order of pike and walleye I can tell you regardless of where you find them they can be a finicky fish.


While you can’t change conditions you can change location. Moving waters offer a better shot for the kayak angler in search of summer smallmouths. Paddle the Jackson Coosa, Liska or Big Rig for logical locations. Cooler in the summer months because the water is in motion, try inflowing feeder creeks, springs, riffles and current. Each of these natural attributes offers the possibility of getting smallmouth to strike. Try tempting them with the same baits you use on largemouth but downsized versions. Low shallow water can be crystal clear and make for a tough day. Smaller lures are less likely to be discovered as bogus bass baits. Finesse jigs, tipped with smaller craw trailers, grubs, small swim baits, some spinnerbaits and a few topwater baits should all be in the tackle box. Don’t dismiss live bait in the form of a healthy creek minnow, hellgrammite or soft shelled crawfish. Spinning rod rigs and a medium action baitcast outfit will serve you nicely and position you for the smallmouth summer solutions.

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