Smallmouth bass have become an increasingly popular species among anglers. With a world record size of 11.94 pounds or 5.42 kg, they are sure to turn heads and provide a thrilling challenge.
Quick Overview of the Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth bass are the popular choice when it comes to recreational fishing and have been for quite some time. They can be found in many different types of water bodies, from lakes to rivers, but they are most commonly found in clear and cool areas with a rocky bottom and plenty of cover.
In Hawaii, smallmouth bass were introduced in 1897 where they quickly became a sought after species by anglers. Today, they are present in Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island.
When comparing largemouth and smallmouth bass, you’ll find that the latter is generally smaller in size than its larger cousin. Even so, they still pack a punch and make for an exciting catch which explains why they remain one of the most popular freshwater game fish today.
The two also differ in terms of habitat preferences, although both prefer shallow waters with plenty of cover such as rocks, logs, or aquatic vegetation.
Lastly, smallmouth bass tend to have a more streamlined body shape compared to that of the largemouth, as well as a distinct black line running along the lower jaw.
As a species, the northern smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) is part of the Animalia kingdom, Chordata phylum, Actinopterygii class, Perciformes order, Centrarchidae family, and Micropterus genus.
It is further divided into two subspecies: the Northern smallmouth bass and the Neosho smallmouth bass.
When you see a northern smallmouth bass in its natural habitat, you’ll notice it has an elongated green body with red eyes and dark brown stripes.
Its slender, muscular, fusiform body shape is covered with ctenoid scales ranging from golden-olive to dark brown. The ventral side is yellowish white with dark vertical bars or blotches and there are also dark brown horizontal bars on the head.
You’ll also find that the protruding jaw does not extend past the eyes, and the two dorsal fins are separated by a shallow interdorsal notch.
Size and Growth
Smallmouth bass are an impressive species of freshwater fish that have some unique characteristics.
The average adult length of a smallmouth bass is between 30-50 cm, and males range around two pounds while females typically weigh from three to six pounds. Interestingly, the size of these fish can vary depending on their habitat.
So, how big do smallmouth bass get? Well, it depends on where they live! But for comparison, juvenile crappie, rock bass, and largemouth bass range similarly in size to smallmouth bass.
When it comes to habitat, smallmouth bass prefer clear water with plenty of protective coverings such as streams, rivers, rocky areas, stumps, or sandy bottoms.
If you’re looking for smallmouth bass, be sure to check out areas with cooler water temperatures than those preferred by largemouth bass – which tend to be above 60°F. During winter months, smallmouth bass will migrate to deep water.
Smallmouth bass are voracious predators, akin to a hungry lion stalking its prey. They feed on an array of items including crustaceans, insects, smaller fish, tadpoles, aquatic insects, crayfish, amphibians, zooplankton and insect larvae.
In some cases, smallmouth bass even cannibalize the young of other parents, reducing native fish populations through predation. By eating these organisms, they alter planktonic and benthic communities in their environment.
During spawning season, female smallmouth bass lay up to 20,000 eggs which are typically placed in nests that are deeper than those made by largemouth bass. As for baby development and growth, newly hatched smallmouth bass are less than one-eighth of an inch long and lack any pigment. After hatching, they remain in the nest until the yolk sac is absorbed into the body. Once this occurs, the fry become free swimming and begin to explore their new habitat. As they age, their diet becomes more varied and complex, allowing them to grow and develop rapidly.
Fishing Tackle and Techniques
Fishing for smallmouth bass can be an exciting and rewarding activity, but it’s helpful to know a few techniques for catching these feisty creatures. To get started, let’s look at the few types of tackle and bait that work best for smallmouth bass.
Lures such as crankbaits, hair jigs, plastic jerkbaits, artificial worms, spinnerbaits, and curly tail grubs with lead head jigs are all popular choices when fishing for smallmouth bass.
Additionally, using dry or wet artificial flies, nymphs, and streamers – as well as floating topwater popper fly patterns and buzz baits – can help attract these fish.
When selecting your gear for smallmouth bass, try rods of ultralight to medium-heavy action paired with spinning reels or baitcasting reels, line strengths from 6-15 lbs.
In colder water, smaller lures like hair jigs or small spinners typically work better, while soft plastic tubes or spinnerbaits will usually do better in other parts of the year.
You’ll also need to know where to look for smallmouth bass. Rocks and eddies in rivers tend to be the most successful locations.
Finally, tips for river fishing and jigging techniques specific to smallmouth bass can help take your game to the next level.
World Record Size
The biggest smallmouth bass ever caught was 11.94 pounds (5.42 kg). This massive fish was caught in Dale Hollow Lake, Tennessee by angler George Perry on June 2nd 1932 and has remained the world record ever since.
It is a remarkable feat that this world-record size remains unbeaten nearly 90 years later.
Can You Eat Smallmouth Bass?
Yes, you can certainly eat smallmouth bass! The meat of these fish are described as sweet and mild with a firm texture. Some people claim that it’s even better than largemouth bass.
They are also very versatile when it comes to cooking styles; they can be baked, grilled, fried, or smoked.
So why not give it a try and prepare your own delicious smallmouth bass dish? If you follow the right recipe, it will taste amazing.
Smallmouth Bass Mounts
Mounting a fish is an art, and anglers love to display their catches in a way that commemorates the experience. For smallmouth bass mounts in particular, there are some tips and tricks to get the best results.
To start, it’s important to take care when removing the head, fins, and other parts of the catch for mounting.
It’s also necessary to preserve the skin, which can be done with special solutions or drying methods, depending on where you live.
Once the mount is finished, make sure to choose a spot away from direct sunlight so that it won’t fade over time.
Finally, don’t forget to enjoy your work – when you look at your mounted smallmouth bass, I’m sure it will bring back fond memories.
Smallmouth Bass Conservation
Sadly, smallmouth bass populations face certain threats, such as habitat destruction and water pollution. Fortunately, we all have the power to help protect these amazing species. One way to contribute is by following sustainable fishing practices.
When catching smallmouth bass, always use the right gear and equipment, handle them with care and respect, and release them quickly and safely.
You can also support organizations dedicated to protecting natural habitats and conserving our lakes and rivers.
The world of smallmouth bass is truly captivating. From learning how to find them to properly preserving and displaying your catches, sportfishing has something to offer everyone. I encourage you to keep exploring this fascinating hobby and maybe even try your luck at catching a smallmouth bass.