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IndianaFinesse

Smallmouth versus largemouth spring\spawn

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I have a tournament coming up in a week and a half on a predominantly smallmouth lake (brookville aka the dead sea in Indiana) and I have not had the opportunity to fish smallies other than half a dozen trips in Michigan and in streams.  I was wondering how their spawning habits, temperatures, and spawning locations compare to largemouth?  Do you think they will be spawning on brookville in a week and a half, or will this be pre or post spawn?  Should I fish for them differently than largemouth or would similar baits except downsized be best? I know very little about smallmouth.

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They like rock and gravel, they are more likely to be on the main lake than in a creek, they like brighter colors and are more aggressive than largemouth, but you are also more likely to catch a big smallmouth on a tiny bait than a big largemouth on a tiny bait.

 

Smallies will always eat a jerkbait!

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Smallmouth tend to spawn in colder water about 58-65 and prefer sand/gravel areas and rocks. I have always had better catch rates using brighter color lures and soft plastics for smallmouth like charteuse tipped tails or morning dawn Roboworms, Iovino smallmouth killer for example.

Tom

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We always had the best luck catching them at the mouths of creeks or at the back of a creek if it has water flowing in heavily. 

 

A sweet potatoe Tiki Shad on a drop shot was always the home run bait.

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They're a little different in lakes than in current, but he same ideas hold up.  55-65 will be your pre-spawn into spawn temps, but that can vary from one body of water to another.  They generally prefer gravel and smaller rock when available, but will also spawn around wood or weeds.  Also, unless they're the dominant species in the lake, there's a good chance you'll find them spawning a little bit deeper than largemouth, etc.. 

 

I really like fishing finesse jigs with small trailers (Bitsy bugs can be deadly) and small football jigs.  A shaky head or wacky senko can be be money once they're hanging out on/around beds as well.  Similarly, don't be afraid to mimic panfish or crayfish that feed on their eggs.  Another piece of advice, while larger females are often the first to spawn, they don't spawn all at once, and often lay eggs multiple times, resting/feeding between sessions.  Because of this, you'll often find big females at the nearest change in structure or large piece of cover to the beds.  This time of year in PA, be it rivers or lakes, this is what I'd focus on. 

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Another thing to remember is that the mouth of a smallmouth is actually "smaller" so its important to downsize hook size, etc when targeting them.

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Do they usually still spawn shallow enough to sight fish?  This lake usually has 4-8 feet of visibility, but i have never personally seen it.

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5 hours ago, IndianaFinesse said:

Do they usually still spawn shallow enough to sight fish?  This lake usually has 4-8 feet of visibility, but i have never personally seen it.

 

I've never personally seen a smallie bed on a river or a lake. They might, but that's a lot of smallie fishing to never see one, where anyone around largemouth will see hundreds per year. 

 

In the lakes in Oregon we usually hit them in 12'-15' when they were staging. They didn't stage like largemouth where they kind of ung out waiting. They would be roaming around at that depth, but you had to find the right transition depth. For example if the second break was 30' and they were staged on the first break of 13' they would be like that everywhere on the entire lake and the day was spent finding the right transition depth instead of fish. If it went from 60' to 13' quickly it was dead water. The PNW reservoirs are kind of a unique deal compared to the rest of the country though. 

 

The only time we would catch or see smallies in under 5' of water was the middle of summer when they would draw the reservoirs down and they would push shad into coves and the backs of creeks. They would chase them literally onto the bank. 

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6 hours ago, Mosster47 said:

 

I've never personally seen a smallie bed on a river or a lake. They might, but that's a lot of smallie fishing to never see one, where anyone around largemouth will see hundreds per year. 

 

In the lakes in Oregon we usually hit them in 12'-15' when they were staging. They didn't stage like largemouth where they kind of ung out waiting. They would be roaming around at that depth, but you had to find the right transition depth. For example if the second break was 30' and they were staged on the first break of 13' they would be like that everywhere on the entire lake and the day was spent finding the right transition depth instead of fish. If it went from 60' to 13' quickly it was dead water. The PNW reservoirs are kind of a unique deal compared to the rest of the country though. 

 

The only time we would catch or see smallies in under 5' of water was the middle of summer when they would draw the reservoirs down and they would push shad into coves and the backs of creeks. They would chase them literally onto the bank. 

Thanks for the replys everyone. So what depth do smallies actually spawn in, and do they usually spawn on the main lake or in protected coves?

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Smallies will spawn shallow and semi deep up to 20-25 feet. They spawn in both bays/creeks and the main lake on Lake Erie. 

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They are nest/bed guarders just like largemouth.  Generally in a sandy or gravel area.  In a river I assume they seek out a similar area out of the current.

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For river and creek in. My. Experience they still spawn shallow as for beds prety similar to. Lm beds butt like stated hard bottom around my. Area they are pretty obvious beds the. Shells and everything are cleared out to a. Clean hard bottom so in my cases light contrast along the shores it will be dark dark light spot that's a bed and at least river and creek smallmouth seem to be more protective and will slide off a bed maybe a foot or 2 and usually watch the whole. Time if not hit like a freight train 

And also stated out of current and also in clearer water they will spawn deeper as long as it's out of thr current baits trick works green pumpkin tubes and craws are very effective beds in my experience (profile pic is a 5# caught off the bed bait in hand g.p green) weightless 

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Largemouth bass commonly bed in 2 to 3 ft of water, where they can be seen on the nest.

On balance though, smallmouths bed deeper than largemouths, hinging mostly on water clarity.

In smallie waters I've fished during the spawn, it seemed that bedding smallies

were always a tad too deep to be seen. If possible, I always plan to fish the pre-spawn or post-spawn,

which are both excellent smallie seasons.

 

Roger

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In the smallmouth waters I fish up north, I see beds in 6 inches of water, 15 feet of water and everything in between. It all depends on the suitable habitat. They'll be on shallow flats in the middle of the open water, or tight to the bank. In the lake I fish most frequently, there is a lot of water in the 4-6 foot depths where I see most of the beds.

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