We still have six weeks or so of off and on cold snaps. If you aren't careful, they can really mess up your smallmouth fishing. There's no reason for that. If you fish the right places with the right lures, you can still catch them even if the weather is nasty.
The first thing is to remember that smallmouth bass aren't largemouth bass. They behave differently all year long and especially during the prespawn, which is the period we're in. Largemouth get right up against the bank in 1 to 3 feet of water to do their thing. You can see what you're doing up there.
Smallmouth stay out a ways in 6 to 12 feet of water. You can't see much when you're fishing for them. That messes with a lot of guys' heads. They think that just because they can't see the fish or the target they're casting at, they can't fish. That's hogwash.
When a cold front moves in, largemouth tend to move out into deeper water. Smallmouth do the same thing, but unlike green fish they also move up off the bottom and suspend. That means if you're going to catch them you have to make your lure presentation higher. Otherwise, you're wasting your time.
My favorite lure for cold front, prespawn smallies is a hard jerkbait. It'll fish the midrange depths where the fish are holding as they wait for warmer weather so they can move back towards their beds.
I've had the most success with Rapala's X-Rap Slashbait. It'll get down where it needs to be and can be fished fast or slow. That's important. If the water's around 50-52 degrees you need to pull your bait slow, with long pauses. When the water warms up into the 55-57 degree range, however, you'll catch more fish moving it quicker.
I like the No. 8 or 10 size best. If the water's clear, try shad patterns or chrome with a blue back. In dingy water I like Hot Mustard or Clown. The most important thing with size and color is to fish with something that looks like the local forage.
Keep something in mind, though. No size or color will catch them if you're fishing too shallow. That's the most common mistake smallmouth bass anglers make. They fish like they're after largemouth bass. A bass is not a bass. They're different.
Smallmouth bass aren't largemouth bass. Don't fish the prespawn up against the bank. Look for flats out further in the creeks or in cuts and backwater areas off the main lake. The north side is usually best.
And don't ignore offshore humps. Some of my best catches at this time of the year are far away from the shore on the tops of humps. Smallies like that stuff.
Don't let a spring cold front ruin your day off work. Think about smallies being deep and suspended. You'll catch 'em.
Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.