Smallmouth: Are there any rules?

We’ve fished three events in smallmouth territory. Here’s how they went for me…

At the 2017 Huk Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence Presented by Go RVing I finished a resounding 103rd. I did better at the Bassmaster Elite at Champlain Presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, though. I was 65th there. But, I finished eighth at the Advance Auto Parts Bassmaster Elite at St. Clair.  

My record is mixed to say the least. You probably should keep that in mind when you read what I have to say about smallmouth. 

The first thing that sticks out in my mind is the number of bass there are in the lakes and rivers we fished and how many you can catch from one spot. Most of the largemouth places we fish will give up one or two good ones from a spot, but then you have to move along to keep catching them. 

In the last three places we’ve been when you catch one good smallmouth you’d better hang on because there’s no telling how many more you’re going to catch. The funny thing is that it’s not like they’re moving in, either. They seem to be there all the time. Every bass I weighed in at St. Clair came out of the same 100-yard stretch of water.

The only time I’ve ever seen anything like that with largemouth is at Lake Okeechobee. There are times down there when you’ll get on a school and it won’t move for days. Even down there, though, that’s rare. 

The next thing that sticks out in my mind is the difference in forage from one place to another. On the St. Lawrence the crayfish are small so the best lures seemed to be small. On Champlain they were feeding on big perch so you’d better be throwing a big bait. And at St. Clair they were eating a mixture of everything so you could change up the size of your lures. 

Another thing I noticed was that you could catch them at about any depth. There were good bass shallow and there were good bass deep. I know those are big fisheries so maybe that accounts for some of it, but I still was amazed at how scattered they were, and in big numbers, too.

Some of the shallow ones were on the beds. I thought that was strange because the current was fairly strong, strong enough so that the eggs had to be washing away. Does anyone out there know how that works? If so, post something up and clue me in as to what’s going on with them.

My last observation has nothing to do with catching them. It’s about what happens after they’re hooked. Smallmouth are just plain mean. Pound for pound they fight as hard as any snook or redfish I’ve ever caught, and they never quit. I loveto catch them. 

Are there any rules for catching smallmouth? Probably not, at least none I know about. As far as I can tell it’s every man for himself.

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