The lake I typically Bass fish has both Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass. So what are the differences? What baits work best, what structure do you fish, and how do you tell them apart?
Smallmouth & Largemouth Structures
Smallmouth Bass prefer rocky bottoms, boulders, and ledges. Their diet specialty is crab, so you will find them working these areas aggressively. You will also find Smallies suspended in deeper water.
Largemouth Bass prefer aquatic vegetation and warmer water. They can be found near the shoreline and on the weed drop-offs. Their diet specialty is minnows, but frogs and crabs will work.
When fishing for Bass I use the same baits, Buzz Baits, Bass Poppers, and Crank Baits (Bandits 200s). However, leeches in rocky structures will do well for the Smallies while small suckers on a harness will do well for Largemouths.
The Smallmouth has a yellowish-brown back and head with dark vertical bars on the side. Between the vertical bars the fish will have a lighter yellowish-brown. The belly of the Smallmouth Bass will be white, turning more of a silver color on older fish. The eyes of the Smallmouth are reddish in color.
The Largemouth have a dark greenish or even black back. The sides are a lighter greenish color giving way to yellow and then a white belly. The eyes of a Largemouth are black.
Easiest Way To Tell A Largemouth From A Smallmouth
The best way I have found to tell the difference between these two Bass are by closing their mouths. When the mouth is closed the hard exterior jaw bone will give it away. On the Largemouth Bass the end of the jaw bone will extend beyond the back of the eye. Where on the Smallmouth Bass the jaw bone will only extend to the middle of the eye. Once you are familiar with both Bass you will be able to tell by the fight, color, and body before you ever get it into the net.
Smallmouth & Largemouth Bass Tips!
1. The Smallmouth produces a harder strike.
2. The Smallmouth puts up a tougher fight.
3. The Smallmouth will be commonly found in rock structures or cruising deeper water.
4. The Largemouth will be found in the weeds and near drop-offs.
5. The Largemouth is a better eating/tasting fish.