Falling temperatures triggers smallmouth bass to move toward the banks and shallow water areas, where they will feed and be active for most of the winter months.
Some lakes like Dale Hollow Lake are world famous for winter and fall smallmouth action. This is by far my favorite lake and I have always had a great trip when I go in the early winter. The smallmouth bass is one of the few game fish that have such a loyal following.
Any true smallmouth man would rather catch a four-pound “smallie” than a five-pound largemouth. The smallmouth is more at home in a deep, clear cool water lake than a largemouth. A smallmouth is also more at home in a river or stream where there is fast moving current than a largemouth. The smallmouth is just in general a more aggressive and active fish in cooler and colder water. On some lakes, including Dale Hollow, the colder the weather in winter the more active the smallmouth become on rigs like a floating fly.
All the reports I am getting about hot action for smallmouth bass are mostly out of the Tennessee lakes such as Norris and Cherokee. The daytime bite is strong on medium to shallow running crank baits in shad- and crawdad-color patterns. Also, the chrome rattle trap-style baits are doing good and spinner baits with a willow leaf or Colorado blade fished close to and parallel to a good bank is doing good.
Nighttime fishing is very hot on a dark colored buzz bait fished close to the bank or over cover. The action will get better and better as it cools on down. I don’t know about anybody else, but I can’t wait.