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Smallmouth experts please help

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I have been reviewing my catch records for the past two years and comparing notes with two others who fish the same or similar lakes.  What caught my eye was that many of our largest Smallmouth catches were in areas with sandy bottoms.  I'm in the Northwest and am fishing lakes and reservior that are generally clear, colder and relatively deep in spots.  Usually I am targeting Largemouth and if I was pressed to pick up some smallies my first instinct would be to head for rocky structure.  Please give me your two cents on what you know about smallies relating to sandy bottoms.  Have you experienced larger catches in these areas?

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I'm not in the northwest, but, having fished all types of structure for smallies, it's my opinion that rocky structures (dams, ledges, boulders, etc) tend to hold more and better smallies. Depends on many factors, of course, but tends to hold true in my experience. things like time of year, what other types of cover are in the lake and the fact that areas with sandy flats tend to get more fishing pressure - they all come into play. (at least in colorado) However, if you find a spot with both (such as a deep edge of a dam tied to a sandy flat cove - you'll generally do better than having fished either of the other areas.

Something tells me this info will be irrelevant to you, as different states and climates make the world of difference - or have for me anyway. I don't know how much this will help, but g'luck!

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No, that has never been my experience.

Gravel bars are as close as I can get to

similar structure. Sand or mud bottoms

are not productive on the Tennessee River.

8-)

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Roadwarior,

How have gravel bars produced for you.  That would be my best comparison, as I really do not come accross too many.  I should mention these are not spawning fish.  Most have been taken very early in the am or at night and would be what I would possibly classify as 'cruisers'.

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Some of my biggest smallmouth caught at night have come from sandy, beach areas.  In general, I look for rock and gravel while targeting smallmouth, but during low light conditions, beaches or sand flats are also good bets.  

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Roadwarior,

How have gravel bars produced for you. That would be my best comparison, as I really do not come accross too many. I should mention these are not spawning fish. Most have been taken very early in the am or at night and would be what I would possibly classify as 'cruisers'.

Although gravel bars are generally considered spawning grounds, we catch smallmouth throughout the fall and winter on this structure. Overall, the bars rank evenly with the "better" structure and faster water on the outside of the river channel.

Surprising, huh?

8-)

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There can be to much rock for great smallie fishing.  I spend all my time looking for sand/gravel and different size boulders and smaller weed beds add a little current and it's smallie heaven.

Garnet

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Thanks to those of you who gave me some feedback on this post. I just wanted to provide an update that may be of some interest. Just for a bit more background I feel compelled to reiterate I generally do not target smallies so I my information was not fully accurate in my original post. Also, the vast of majority of the waters I fish (and had in mind when writing this) have no currents associated with them.

So the good news is I visited the exact spot I had in mind when writing this post last week with excellent success. It produced several quality smallies early in the am then agian late the following night. (pic of best fish attached, 3lb 15oz caught on buzz bait @ 11:30pm). The fish were caught in 4-8 feet of water and as stated on a sandy bottom but, here's the kicker. These fish are still spawning!! On the large fish she looked suspiciously red on her anus? (feel free to help me with my fish A&P) which made me very curious. Then I ran into some other anglers that night that I knew and they mentioned that they had just cleaned some smallies a couple of nights prior that still had eggs inside. That means these fish were caught on one of the last two days of June or the first of July! We had a very long winter this year with a long tough transition to spring. It honestly never would have crossed my mind that these fish were still spawning. Does anyone experience this in their part of the country? Don't smallies generally spawn before the Largemouth? One final comment I'd like to make in regards to catch and release:

While I am a catch and release fishman, I have read several comments from members using poor judgement when dealing with others those who do not practice catch and release. I'd be the last one to claim to know whats best for the fishery and will leave that up to the experts but, I will admit I'd love to see those potential trophies returned to be caught again. My real point is if some are going to keep and eat these fish, us who don't may as well learn as much from them as we can. I spend my fair share of time and money on this crazy pursuit called fishing. It only seems logical that if I had the abilty to know what they were eating the last 12-24 hours it may help me out. So I can either criticize someone who is going to open up the stomach of these fish or I can befriend them and find out whats inside too. Just a thought. Thanks for listening.

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Crank Addict,

Last Saturday, my buddy and I went out targeting smallies (see My Fishing Tournament or Outing section - "Good times this weekend!" for pics) and do you know where we were catching our largest fish? Yup, sand flats. We tried many rocky areas (points, islands, humps, etc.), areas with scattered rock large and small. We caught some dinks on these areas but nothing of any size. Our larger fish came from 3-8 ft of water on sand flats in the morning and 8-15 ft on the first ledge along the sand flats in the afternoon. Although, I will note that these flats do have logs scattered along the bottom which gives the smallies something to relate to (though we saw many smallies just cruising the flats). This may differ from your areas. The lake I am referring to is very clear (about 10 -12 ft of visibility) and quite deep in some areas. These areas produced very well last year around the same time as well. BUT, on other lakes I've fished, those rocky areas (points, islands, humps, etc.) and areas with scattered rock (large and small) have produced very well also. So to answer your original question, yes, I have experienced larger catches in these areason some lakes. Hope that helps! :)

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We have tons of sand bars and flats on the Kanawha river. It hasnt ever really produced that well for me. However the fish i have caught have been good fish it seems. my guess is baitfish feeding on the little bugs and what not in the sand and silt. And we all know that where the baitfish are the Bass will follow. try burning ur buzzbaits and spinnerbaits.Downsize and match the blades size to the baitfiosh size.hope this helps

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Downsize and match the blades size to the baitfish size.

Or upsize for the size of bass you would really like to catch!

8-)

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lol yeh roadwarrior id say those 2 smallies you are holding would have eatin a small child swimming bye! ;D

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baitfish, thats what smallmouth love to eat around sandy areas. My 4lber came off a sandy shoal. But then my bros 4lber came off of a rocky ledge. I would say fish both and see what happens! use a craw on rocks and a mr twister/ baitfish imitator on sand! ;)

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I have seen it on lake St.clair with not a rock in miles. There were however weeds. Crayfish also can thrive in sandy weedy areas. Kim Stricker has a good video of this. We fished a touney thre and fished a brekline with scattered weed patches in 12 feet and weighed in a 20 lb. limit. YES smallmouth Will inhabit sandy areas of the lake.

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They aren't my favorite spots to fish because often the fish aren't as bunched up, but I too have had good luck in sandy areas.  I have one sandy point that is always good for one solid fish, rarely 2 or 3 and never more than that  In my experience, it depends on what prey the bass are keyed in on and how both prey and bass are relating to the available cover.  Open sandy patches in a weedy area or isolated weeds on a big sandy flat/point can be as "money" as the opening of a rockpile in a weedy area or weed clumps on a rocky point.  Keep in mind that shiners (for example) often breed and feed on sandy areas...  

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Downsize and match the blades size to the baitfish size.

Or upsize for the size of bass you would really like to catch!

8-)

agreed! also, think of it this way. you don't ever want them to see the perfect outline of the blades anyway and size them up accordingly. a successful spinnerbait bite always masks that in some form - lure speed and current, water clarity, light conditions, etc - at least, imo. you're looking for the flash and/or vibrations - not neccesarily a perfect baitfish imitation. that's what swimbaits are for!  ;D

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