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Smallmouths… an ambush predator


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smallies (nothern pike as well) sit at the lip behind that chunk rock or boulder lurking, waiting for something tasty to swim between them and the bank. They use the bank as a trap point. The prey can only go forward or back. These fish are built to hunt and they maximize their surroundings to do it. 
 

Not sure if this matches anyone elses experience, but in rivers by best spots are areas with a rocky shoreline thats drops off quickly (only a foot or 2 is adequate). Run my baits horizontal to the bank within a couple feet. I would guess 50% of my smallmouth (or more) have came on this pattern.) spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and buzztoads are the goto’s.
 

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My experience is smallmouth are roamed, move in packs and are sight based opportunistic feeders.  Smallness will take advantage of current to have the food brought to them. They are masters of saving energy by utilizing current breaks and seams.

 

smallies being sight feeders move vertically to feed stations shallower than there deeper safe haunts. Baits coming off a ledge break may be struck with force. You will at times have to answer the question, are they feeding up or feeding down.  Figure that out, find current breaks and the success level goes up fast.

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Pattern was on fire last night! All within 2-3ft of bank. Last one was pushed up on the bank!  Caught 4, missed a handful more.

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13 hours ago, Columbia Craw said:

My experience is smallmouth are roamed, move in packs and are sight based opportunistic feeders.  Smallness will take advantage of current to have the food brought to them. They are masters of saving energy by utilizing current breaks and seams.

 

smallies being sight feeders move vertically to feed stations shallower than there deeper safe haunts. Baits coming off a ledge break may be struck with force. You will at times have to answer the question, are they feeding up or feeding down.  Figure that out, find current breaks and the success level goes up fast.

I have always heard that they are a pack predator, but, maybe its just the smaller rivers I fish, i rarely find a school. Just randomly spread out. Might pick one or 2 off a spot. Although, now that ive started fishing a larger river hard, i have experienced some of this.

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I probably should have qualified my post.  I’m fishing large “pools” on the Columbia River that are up to 20 miles long or longer and over a mile wide. I also fish reservoirs that run 8 to 13 miles long with depth well over 100 feet.  Large structure features can hold hundreds of bass.  The smallest river is the Willamette .  No dams there.  Current is always present.

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On 5/13/2022 at 12:51 PM, Bdnoble84 said:

smallies (nothern pike as well) sit at the lip behind that chunk rock or boulder lurking, waiting for something tasty to swim between them and the bank. They use the bank as a trap point. The prey can only go forward or back. These fish are built to hunt and they maximize their surroundings to do it. 
 

Not sure if this matches anyone elses experience, but in rivers by best spots are areas with a rocky shoreline thats drops off quickly (only a foot or 2 is adequate). Run my baits horizontal to the bank within a couple feet. I would guess 50% of my smallmouth (or more) have came on this pattern.) spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and buzztoads are the goto’s.
 

I do well on chunk rock, eddies, and current breaks.  

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I get most strikes within 5 ft of the  bank but i think its important to start upstream and as deep as possible. I dont know if the bass are waiting for my jig at the bank or if im dragging them out of the depths. But they do strike at the bank, just before they get shallow enough to be seen.   

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My experience with river smallies is somewhat similar to @PaulVE64. They either come way out there at the beginning of my cast or within a few feet of the shore. Just to add an important note, I’m fishing some pretty decent sized rivers, so I do a lot of fan casting. I’m not necessarily always locked into a specific target as you would be in a creek or smaller river. 

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10 hours ago, PaulVE64 said:

I get most strikes within 5 ft of the  bank but i think its important to start upstream and as deep as possible. I dont know if the bass are waiting for my jig at the bank or if im dragging them out of the depths. But they do strike at the bank, just before they get shallow enough to be seen.   

Some of them based on the angle i do think are sitting at the bank, but alot of them very well could be trailing. So whether its just coincidence or they are trailing and see a predatory opportunity is hard to say. I view it like hunting and funnels. The bass are using their surroundings to increase the success rate while using the least energy possible.

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6 minutes ago, TnRiver46 said:

Smallmouth bass always tend to follow one rule: they do whatever they want 

? very true. They are definitely rebels. So easy to tick off and lash out violently. Thats why i love them so much. You burn a bait in front of their face enough times, they will eventually crush it.

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On 5/14/2022 at 8:01 AM, Bdnoble84 said:

Pattern was on fire last night! All within 2-3ft of bank. Last one was pushed up on the bank!  Caught 4, missed a handful more.

This is a typical technique of foraging fish: bass, crappie, stripe, hybrids...etc..etc.

They run the bait up shallow where, at that point, there is nowhere else to go.

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39 minutes ago, Bdnoble84 said:

? very true. They are definitely rebels. So easy to tick off and lash out violently. Thats why i love them so much. You burn a bait in front of their face enough times, they will eventually crush it.

I don’t know, I’ve seen them ignore baits all day long 

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1 hour ago, TnRiver46 said:

I don’t know, I’ve seen them ignore baits all day long 

The big ones sure ignored mine Saturday. Small ones came to play!

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1 hour ago, TnRiver46 said:

I don’t know, I’ve seen them ignore baits all day long 

They do that too, but its sure fun when that predatory rage gets triggered and the hit with reckless abandon

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6 minutes ago, Bdnoble84 said:

They do that too, but its sure fun when that predatory rage gets triggered and the hit with reckless abandon

Sounds like me standing in front of the open refrigerator doors at 2 am 

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Quote

Smallmouths… an ambush predator

 

And that my friend is why smallmouth are so susceptible to being caught by jerk baits. A properly worked jerk bait brings out that predator instinct better than any other bait I have ever used for smallmouth. They can't stand seeing a bait fleeing while showing visible signs of distress.    

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On 5/13/2022 at 12:51 PM, Bdnoble84 said:

smallies (nothern pike as well) sit at the lip behind that chunk rock or boulder lurking, waiting for something tasty to swim between them and the bank

 

When I fish brown bass in a river, its a small river.  The average depth is like 1-2 feet deep with some even shallower areas and a few deeper holes mixed in.  We often float it in a small jon boat from point A to point B and it takes us 4-5 hours.  Current plays a major role.  Depth can too, but not necessarily.  Targets to cast to are shoreline features like undercut banks, wood, eddies, and of course, boulders.  Accuracy is essential.  Too far and you get hung up.  Short it and you won't get a strike.  A large boulder in the middle of an area that is lacking current has held smallmouth for me.  They usually sit behind it, but I've caught them in front of it too.

 

Pike?  Not so much.  I don't catch a lot of pike in the faster-moving river I target for bass, which is fine by me.  Not a big fan lol.  They are generally more weed-oriented predators.  I catch a ton of them when I'm targeting largemouth bass in lakes.

 

I do also occasionally catch walleye.  They are present more where there is some depth and the water seems to be slightly higher/murkier.

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3 hours ago, TnRiver46 said:

@throttleplate, c’mon man! A sad face emoji for a refrigerator joke??? What do I have to do to win you over????

I must have hit the wrong emoji, i will try again.?

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