If God ever made a perfect fish, I think it would have to be a smallmouth bass.
I love to fish for largemouth bass as much as anybody, but there is just something special about smallmouth bass. Smallmouth bass will continue to remain active in the cooler water long after largemouth bass have slowed down.
As a matter of fact, on some lakes like world-famous Dale Hollow Lake the best smallmouth fishing of the year is in the coldest part of the winter. Smallmouth methods like the floating fly and the silver buddy are top producers in the winter months.
The silver buddy was made famous by the late great Billy Westmoreland. He was considered by many the greatest smallmouth angler in the world.
All the reports I have received on several lakes are of good smallmouth action. This includes lakes in Tennessee. and Kentucky. Lakes like Norris, Dale Hollow, and Cherokee are all reporting good smallmouth action.
I have received reports that on sunny days when the bait fish schools are close to the banks in deeper water, bass are good in 12 to 15 feet of water on shad-colored crankbaits. Put your boat about a short cast off the bank and make your cast parallel to the bank. Try to cast out past the school and slowly work your crankbait back through the area and try using a twitch, pause type retrieve.
Stopping your retrieve at times allows the bait to look like a weak or dying bait fish. Smallmouth look for these type of bait fish and will bust the bait if presented right. This is a great way to trigger a strike from a feeding smallmouth.
Also a jig is a top producer of winter smallmouth and a big bass bait. Look for areas that have deeper water close by like a creek channel or a edge of a flat that drops off into deeper water, a main lake point, or — one of my favorite types of cover — a stairstep cliff or bluff wall.
On deep clear lakes like Dale Hollow look for steep sloping banks that have broken chunk rocks. This is a prime area to winter smallmouth fish.
So if you want to catch a smallmouth of a lifetime, now is the time to get started and the colder it gets the better it will get.
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