2017 Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass Fishing At It’s Best!

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.

Bass Baits

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.

Visual Differences

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.

2017 Largemouth Bass – 4 to 1 vs Northerns

It’s mid July and the water is starting to warm up finally here in the upper Mid-West. So we headed out to video some Bass Action for you. Typically I like to see much warmer weather and water before focusing on Bass & Crappies, but I don’t think we are going to get it this year. Now, before going out we need to make sure we have a good steal-leader since there are a lot of Northern Pike in this lake. You will see in the video that we end up catching 4 times a many Pike as we did Bass.

Our Bass Baits

I like to use top water baits since it’s a blast to see the action, so we start with a Blue Bass Popper & Yellow Buzz Bait. If the top water action is just not there then I will move to a 200 Series Bandit. Visit this link to see how to make your own Bass Poppers!

Bass Baits In Action

Here you can watch these baits and strikes in action.

Catching Smallmouth Bass On a Fly Rod

SmallMouth Bass – A Great Fight

If you are looking to have some fun try fly fishing for Smallmouth, what a fight and after a couple you will know your arm and risk have been in a battle.

Where To Find The Smallmouth Bass

If you have a lake with Smallies in it then you will find them feeding in the gravel or rocks. So find a shallow bay with this type of bottom structure. The Smallmouth Bass will be there feeding on spiders, dragonflies, and crabs. On a calm day where the water is motionless you should be able to see the Bass hitting the surface, so work slowly and be ready for a fight.

The water depths I like to focus on are two to five feet with most of my strikes in ~3 feet of water. The challenge is keeping the Bluegills and Crappies from hitting your dry fly, so I try to stay out deep casing in toward the gravel shorelines or rock piles, stay away from the weedlines.

Which Dry Fly Works Best For Smallmouth

I have found the Brown Spider (Dry Fly) with white legs to work great, but have also caught them on Green and Black body spiders. When fishing for Bass I use my larger homemade Spiders, which use a size 10 Aberdeen Light Wire Panfish hook.

How To Handle A Smallmouth Bass On A Fly Rod

When using a Fly Rod for Bass I use the same rod and leader I use for catching Bluegills. The leader I use is not tapered, but just a three foot piece of 6 or 8 lb monofilament line. The key for handling the Smallmouth is; do not horse them in, let the fly rod do the work and wear the fish out. And do not try and lift them out of the water with your fly rod, but rather use a net or grab them by the lip while their still in the water. This should minimize any risk of breaking your leader.

When Are Bass Most Active – Late Season Bass Fishing

Deep Weedlines – Larger Bass

It’s seems Bass are easy to catch and can be caught all year long, but there are times in the season when they are more active than others.I find in the early summer you can catch them in the shallows feeding, but once summer is in full swing you need to go to the deeper weedlines. Now if you have not fished the Fall season for Bass then you are missing out. Early Fall is like no other time of the year for catching Largemouth Bass. The bass are preparing for Winter and the Spring spawning season, so they are feeding more aggressively and carrying more weight.

Where To Catch The Largest Bass

In the early Fall season focus on the deep weedlines with sharp drop-offs for the largest fish. If the sun is high I go deeper than during the dusk and dawn times. On this bass trip we were on the lake from 4pm to 7pm and caught over 15 bass, the largest being a 4.5 lb Largemouth and a 3 lb Smallmouth.

Using the Strike King & Innovation Shad Combination

When the Sun is high or the water is choppy I will go deep with this artificial combination. I go to the weedlines that are close to a quick and deep drop. Now this bait combination may not catch as many fish as a Bandit Crankbait, but it will catch large bass. I consistently catch 4 to 5 lb Largemouth Bass with this and occasionally one up to 6 lbs. I also catch nice Smallmouth with this, but have found better baits for the Smallies.

Using The 200 & 300 Bandit Crankbait

I will use the Bandit once the Sun starts to go down and the bass come into the weedline to feed. I like to use the 300 and reel it slowly, as this will dive up to 8 feet then. The Fall Bass can not resist it, but you will find they will not run as large as those you will catch with the Strike King and Reaction Innovation Shad.

Using The J-Plug Or Buzzbait

By late Summer and early Fall I have typically stop using these two baits, due to the weeds being up to the surface. However, if you see a swirl far in the weeds then toss the buzzbait up there, It won’t take long and that bass will find it.

One tactic I found to work great when using the buzzbait is to toss it up high so the bass can see it coming. Why, well the bass are always looking for dragonflies to eat and they need to time it perfectly or they will miss it. The same holds true for top water baits, ever notice a lot of your bass hits are right after it hits the water…

Early Fall Bass Catch

Here is our catch for this 3 hour bass fishing trip, using the Strike King & Reaction Innovation Bait Combination. In my video you will see the Bait Combination used and the differences between a Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass..


How To Find & Catch Stripers – Freshwater Hybrids – Bass

Fishing For Hybrid Bass – Freshwater Stripers

Here we are going to focus on fishing for freshwater Hybrid Bass (Stripers). This video was taken off Lake Hartwell in Anderson South Carolina and was only the second time I have tried fishing for Stripers. In both our fishing trips we caught plenty of Bass between 5 and 10 pounds and we’ll keep trying to find those big ones for you, 20 to 50 pounds.

To get a good Idea of where to find these fish we need to understand what the structure is like and take a look at a topographical map. Next we need to determine which method of fishing we are going to use and what type of bait live or artificial.

What Bait To Use For Freshwater Stripers

We have decided to use the Blue-back Herring again, which will cost you ~$7/dozen, fish directly below the boat using 17 pound test line (mono-filament) with a 4 oz sinker and 24 inches of leader. Our setup (rig) is a swivel with 2 feet of leader line (same mono-filament) a foot ball slip sinker above the swivel, and then a circular type hook. When purchasing the Herring try to choose those that are medium in size (5 to 6 inches) and very light or shiny in color. Avoid the dark and larger Blue-back Herring.

How To Find the Stripers

We portaged from the Galley Restaurant that is located on Lake Hartwell and headed straight out. Our strategy was to find the bait fish by checking out a few Bays, Flats, and Deep Water over the trees, which are typically in 80 plus feet of water and with the trees stretching 30 to 40 feet tall. Using our locator, which includes the topographical maps, gave us a great picture of the structures, however it does not work well for locating the fish, so we had a separate fish finder for this.

Fishing The Bays

When fishing the bays you want to work in water depths of 30 to 65 feet, looking for the schools of bait fish. Many times you will find the bait fish working from 20 feet down to the surface, if you do stop and set your rods up. Then troll slowly to toward the schools of fish and set your depths to where you see the Stripers on your Fish Finder. Since these Stripers are chasing the bait fish they will be working from the deep water to the surface, so toss a couple of rods out the back, as far as you can with no weight, you may find you can snag a few Stripers this way as well.

Fishing The Flats

When fishing the flats, areas that have no trees and may be as deep as 50 to 65 feet, look for fish feeding right on the bottom, these will be your Striped Bass along with a few catfish. If you find this you have it made, just drop your line down to bottom and reel up so your bait is a foot off, the action will be incredible.

Fishing Deep Water Over The Treetops

When fishing for the Striped Bass over the treetops it’s important to find the bait fish. You will definitely find the strippers in the trees, but without the bait fish you will not get them to come up and out to feed. The depth of water you are fishing over is 60 to over 100 feet deep. Again it’s extremely important to find a spot where you have bait fish, once you have located this drop your line to just above the treetops. Or if the fish are out and feeding to the depth you are marking the Stripers. Do not try fish in the trees or you will lose your tackle, and be ready because a large Stirper will head for the trees and wrap you. Since the trees are tall you will be fishing only 20 to 40 feet down.

How To Hold The Boat When Still Fishing For Stripers

The best way we have found to hold our boat when fishing the Bays, Flats, and Tree Tops, is to use a trolling motor with an anchor mode. If you don’t have an anchor mode then one of you will have to keep maneuvering the trolling motor/boat while watching the radar and fish finder.

Tip:
Fishing the Rivers, such as the Upper Savannah River will produce better fishing than Lake Hartwell itself on many occasions. On this trip we head toward the Savannah Dam and found schools of Striped Bass. The depth 63 feet, treetops 42 feet and fished between 30 and 40 feet deep.