Smallmouth bass fishing really heats up as the water temperatures drop into the low 50’s, but largemouth bass will slow down and move toward warmer, deeper water on most lakes.
With smallmouth bass much more active in colder water, they will hit a bait very hard. There are some winter anglers who will bundle up and go out in very cold weather to go after big “smallies.” I have been in on a few of these trips myself to Dale Hollow Lake, where I always caught fish and had a good trip.
One of the best baits you can use is the old reliable crankbait. These baits can be fished during most of the year by just changing things like bait size, color, depth it runs at, and with or without rattles. All these things have a huge effect on the success of a smallmouth winter trip.
Typically when the smallmouth season starts in late fall, the fish will be feeding heavy on schools of shad and you can use a shad-color larger bait with rattles to get good action. But as the water gets colder in mid to late winter the smaller, darkercolored baits without rattles will do well.
You just have to try both ways to see what the activity level of the fish is at the time. So on your next smallmouth trip give some crankbaits a try.