August 30, 2020 4 min read

Smallmouth bass from Lake Oneida New York

Wanna Catch More Smallmouth Bass? We Do Too!

You may think that catching smallmouth bass from a lake is all about the type of lure you choose, but I am here to shine a light on the fact that if you find a wolfpack of lake roaming smallmouth you could throw a bottle cap and catch them!

Read on, Bass Fishing Hub will take a deep dive into how to locate lake living smallmouth bass, and sure fire methods to catch smallmouth bass from lakes!


Seagulls feeding on baitfish that attract smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass are primarily a sight feeding bass, which differs a great deal from the closely related Largemouth Bass. Smallmouth are more often to chase down baitfish in open water, then remain stationary hidden under a mat of grass.  

The fact that smallies like to chase down bait can be a very big positive trait to exploit. The obvious above water signs of where to start looking for Smallmouth Bass are a presence of birds.

Particularly the presence of sea gulls, loons and cormorants. These are open water feeding birds that literally will scan the entire lake and look for schools of baitfish to eat. Blue Herons and other land based birds have very little indication of schools of smallmouth.  

Once I have keyed in on a particular section or bay of the lake by locating the birds, idle around and look for major structural bottom features that can pinpoint where to start casting.  


When locating key structures that hold lake dwelling smallmouth bass water temperature and seasonal patterns have a very big influence on where to look.

Spring Smallmouth Lake Fishing

Spring time smallmouth bass spots

During the spring warm up and up until the smallmouth spawn the most productive areas to find smallmouth bass in lakes are structures and features that are connected to the bank. Remember smallmouth bass are creatures that only live to reproduce. The spawn and natures way of protecting the species is to embed natural instincts to survive in all smallmouth.  

Finding bays with flats that are protected from high winds, turbid water and changing water conditions are sure fire areas to begin looking to find spring time smallies. Bays that include gravel, sand and even boulders are almost a 100% guarantee to have smallmouth in them.

Large lakes such as Lake Erie or Lake Oneida can sometimes have huge schools of smallmouth rush into protected bays to spawn. Hundreds of fish can be seen roaming to find a mate, which can lead to some unbelievable fishing.

To learn about the most productive baits to use for smallmouth bass click here.

Summer Smallmouth Lake Fishing

In the summer of the year, after the spawn has been completed and as water temperatures begin to rise its time to start looking for smallmouth bass in lakes off the bank. Some of the best locations to find smallmouth bass in the summer are offshore humps, which have deep water on all sides of them.

Current also becomes a very large factor to locating summer-time bass. Often times the wind can squeeze current between islands and the smallmouth will be set up to ambush the baitfish as they are funneled.

Having a good sonar, or side-scan sonar are critical to finding offshore smallmouth. Once schools of bass are located the lure choice is a much easier problem to solve. Smallmouth are very aggresive by nature, but you have to be around fish to catch fish.

In some lakes smallmouth can suspend under baitfish like smelt, so if you see marks on your graph that are not on the bottom they could still be smallies. Try topwater baits or even spinnerbaits to call the fish up to your lures.

In other lakes the smallmouth will be located close to the bottom and feeding on gobies or crayfish. Try to cast a carolinia rig, dropshot or jig.  

Fall Smallmouth Lake Fishing

Fall lake locations to find smallmouth bass

In the fall of the year, as the water temperature begins to cool smallmouth begin to make another run at the bank. The single biggest concern of a smallmouth is to fatten up to make it thru winter. Most northern lakes will freeze over in a matter of months so time is of the essence for survial.

Locations to look for are river mouths which dump into a lake. These spots typically will have a flat of sand and gravel which congregate baitfish. If your lucky the river will even hold a population of young of the year perch or baitfish that will exist the river with cooling water temperatures. A set up like the picture above of Lake Champlain is a for sure 100% ideal situation to find fall lake smallmouth.

Its really a matter of choice for lures to use. Topwaters, spinnerbaits, soft plastics all work when the smallmouth are gorging themselves. 100 fish days are not uncommon of you locate a wolfpack of hungry smallmouth.

Other lake areas to mention that are worthy to look for are shallow rocks which can hold crayfish. Personally I have found smallmouth in less than 2 feet of water with water temperatures as low as 43 degrees. Food is the primary reason those fish were so shallow and active.

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