The recent wave of bad storms and heavy rains that’s been rolling across the country, especially in the Midwest and Northeast, have made tough living conditions for some humans but made good living conditions for lake dwelling smallmouth bass.
If you’re a serious angler take advantage of it because it doesn’t happen very often in late June and early July, and the good fishing conditions probably won’t last very long.
What has happened is that all the water pouring into the lakes and reservoirs has increased the oxygen content in the water, cooled it down and put some much needed stain into the water. Each of those three things helps the smallmouth bite. The three of them together causes it to explode. We can see that explosion right now.
Let’s talk about the oxygen first. The more I fish, and the more time I spend on the water, the more I believe that oxygen has as much to do with fish activity as anything there is out there. It activates the fish, causes them to burn calories and makes them go on the feed. High oxygen content means good fishing. Low oxygen content means poor fishing.
As of today the oxygen content is higher than it usually is at this time of the year because of the incoming rainwater. That says better fishing.
That same rainwater is also dropping the overall water temperature. A little bit of rain won’t do that. But we haven’t had a little bit of rain. We’ve had a lot. The temperature has dropped several degrees way down in the water column. That’s caused the fish to move shallower than usual at this time of the year. They don’t have to drop down to 25 feet to get away from the heat.
This movement towards shallower water has been helped by all the dirt that’s washing in, too. It blocks the sunlight so the fish feel more comfortable than usual. (In most lakes and reservoirs the water is starting to clear by now. It might not be as clear as it will be this fall but it’s clearer than it was this spring.)
For us smallmouth anglers all of this put together means we can catch them a lot shallower than usual. Even in waters where there’s mostly a night bite right now there’s some pretty good early morning and late evening action. Try throwing spinnerbaits, small crankbaits and deep-diving jerkbaits. They’ll all catch their share.
Don’t limit your fishing to areas near the creek mouths, either. That’ll work in most years after a heavy summer rain, but not in this year. The rains have been so heavy that the lakes are changing everywhere. An offshore hump a 100 yards from shore might work as well, or better, than your favorite creek.
This is not a perfect world, however. You’ll still have to fight the pleasure boat traffic and all the vacationers. But that’s a small price to pay for good smallmouth bass fishing in the early summer. That’s the way I see it, anyway.