Smallmouth Through the Seasons: Spawn

Smallmouth are one of those fish species that, once hooked, make you earn every inch of line you reel in. For that reason, they’re popular among freshwater anglers looking for a tough fight. In Part One, I shed a little light on how smallies behave during the prespawn, and also provided some tips on what tactics to use to catch them. Today, we’ll continue by exploring their habits during the spawn.

When seeking smallmouth, it’s important to remember that not all lakes warm at the same time, especially the larger ones. Therefore, not all bass will spawn at the same time. Generally, the northwest side of lakes and the upper areas of reservoirs warm up first. The spawning area must have direct access to the sun, so look for shallow flats protected from rough water. Here, smallmouth will spawn on small diameter gravel next to solid objects like wood, boulders and weeds in water between 5-15 feet deep.

After the spawn, some smallmouth will remain shallow around flooded bushes or stumps, while others will move off to the first available deep water. The larger fish will usually spawn deeper and also tend to spawn earlier.

To cash in on smallie action during the spawn, use minnow type baits such as Rapalas and other jerkbaits (gold color works well), especially in clear water. In dingier water, go with spinnerbaits in the ½ oz range. Spinnerbaits work well on the first spawners of the year and you can catch big females with them.

Like largemouth, smallies will be in protective mode during the spawn and any angler knows there’s a solid, reliable lure to use in this case: lizards. Texas rigged lizards in salt/pepper, blacks and purple colors work well in clearer water. Swim the lizard with a slow, steady retrieve rather than hopping it like you would a worm.

The spawn season means smallies will be on their beds and guarding them well. Capitalize on this by knowing where the beds will be and using baits that appeal to their protective nature and you’ll have no problem hooking into your share of bronzebacks.