Smallmouth Bass Facts: America’s Hardest Fighting Fish
The smallmouth bass is a freshwater fish that is native to the middle Mississippi River basin, and to the Saint Lawrence River and Great Lakes system, clear up into Hudson Bay. That said, as a popular game fish, the smallmouth bass has been introduced into many rivers and lakes by deliberate stocking, and is now found throughout the temperate zones of North America.
Smallmouth bass facts
Also know an the bronzeback, bronze bass, brownie, brown bass, bareback bass, or the smallie, the smallmouth bass is normally brown in color, with dark vertical bands on either side of its body, and distinctive red eyes. The females are larger than the males, and typically grow to between three and six pounds in weight. The smaller male it normally about two pounds in weight when fully grown. It is not however uncommon to find larger specimens, and the current world record stands at 11 pounds 15 ounces for a fish caught at Dale Hollow Lake, Tennessee, in 1955. That said, a fish of just over 12 pounds was reportedly caught at Laurel River Lake, Kentucky, in 2012, but this does not count as it was caught in a gill net.
Unlike its cousin, the largemouth bass, the smallmouth bass prefers reasonably clear water, and particularly favors stream, rivers and waters with a rocky bottom, or plenty of tree stumps. It is also increasingly making its home on the sandy bottoms of many reservoirs and lakes. Like the trout, it is quite sensitive to pollution and will not be slow in moving out of water that becomes polluted, always assuming that there is an escape route for it to follow. It is also most prevalent where there is a good supply of food, and its diet includes insects, crayfish and smaller fish.
America’s Hardest Fighting Fish
The smallmouth bass is particularly popular with anglers because, pound for pound, it is considered by many to be the toughest fighting freshwater fish to be found anywhere in the United States. Indeed, its fighting ability on the top of the water once it has been hooked is a large part of its attraction for many anglers.
Smallmouth bass are wary fish and can be quite a challenge to catch, and the range of both natural and artificial baits used to tempt them is large. In particular, there is a huge range of lures to choose from including crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, plastic lures and jerkbaits. The most popular bait today is the lure, and most lures are fished traditionally using either a bait caster or spinner rod.
It is also possible to fish for smallmouth bass using fly tackle, and this is something that has grown in popularity in recent years, not least because of the challenge and thrill of bringing the fish to the net on a fly line. Fly fishermen tend to use a wide variety of rods and lines, depending on the water to be fished, and will fish both dry and wet flies, as well as nymphs, streamers and imitation baits, such as leeches and crawfish.
To help to maintain a healthy population of smallmouth bass for the game fisherman, the practice of catch-and-release is being encouraged on many waters.
To catch more smallies become a student of the species. You can learn about more about the history of smallmouth bass in North America in this book, Lost Secrets of the Smallmouth Bass.