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The official state fish of Tennessee. These freshwater fish are famous for twisting and turning as they jump above the waterline. Pound for pound, they're one of the hardest fighting fish anglers can hook on their line.
  • Fishing

    This species of fish is a very popular game fish. Smallmouth Bass fishing is often in the shadow of its bigger cousin. However, they are not much smaller, and what they lake in size they make up with aggression and a fight that will leave you respecting these magnificent fish.

  • Size

    The average size of these hard fighting fish is between 15 and 20 inches.

    For you record chasers out there, an 11 pounds 15-ounce bass is the current world-record, but stories swirl of the catch from 1955 having lead weights placed inside the fish. The second-place record was caught in Tennessee but weighed in Kentucky at 9 pounds and 6 ounces, so a little feud brews as to which state is the owner of that big fish.

    Luckily we have a third-place of 9 pounds and 6 ounces caught on the same lake as the first and second place records, so just know the next world record will probably come from Dale Hollow Reservoir.

  • When & Where it’s Available

    You might have all the latest gear, the fastest boat, and the best smallmouth bass lures, but if you don't know where to drive or where to find Smallmouth Bass, then you'll have more fishing stories than photos.

    So, when is the best time to catch smallmouths, and where do you catch smallies? Let's break Spring down by the 4 stages of the spawn.

    For anglers fishing up north, these fish will start their spring pre-spawn movements a little sooner than southern fish. The Smallmouth move to areas in the sun and out of the wind. However, the water hasn't reached a stable temperature yet, so they are susceptible to any cold fronts. When it does... they will dive down deep and be hard to find.

    Late pre-spawn involves a day filled with looking for rockpiles and underwater structures for cover. Males and females will be looking for food and planning their nesting spot.

    In the final moments of pre-spawn, when the water temperatures hit 52 degrees, cast in about 8 feet of water for some big females. The male fish move a little closer to the shoreline, attempting to impress their counterparts with a well-built home for their offspring.

    When the water reaches 60 degrees, the home defense systems are in place, and children are in their crib. Females throw out anything that isn't organic to their nesting site, and males will aggressively attack no matter the size of the aggressor. Shoreline fishermen and women or those wade fishing will be able to spot these locations with the naked eye.

    Top 10 Smallmouth Bass Destinations

    North America offers a ton of fantastic lakes and rivers for Smallmouth Bass that aren't on our list. A fishing guide near you will know of hidden fishing spots on a lake near you. They have spent years finding the areas that not everybody knows about, that's their job. So book a half-day or full-day fishing trip and discover some hidden gems.

  • Fishing Tips

    Catching Smallmouth Bass requires knowing your area, knowing the habits of the fish, and knowing how to take advantage of their movement. Once you spend the time learning from the local fishing guide experts and doing some of your own research, you will start having excellent returns to your casts.

    The best smallmouth bass lures depend on the location of the bass. During pre-spawn cast in the rocks with a crankbait, also known as a "Wiggle Wart." Spawn is pretty simple, and just about any plastic bait in the shallows will produce an aggressive male in the net. Right before summer, in the post-spawn cast, a soft plastic in some deep-water and you might find some very hungry recovering females.

    Check out our section above for more details about where to find "bronze backs."

  • Good to Eat

    Smallmouth Bass aren't very good to eat. Can you eat smallies? Yes. Do they taste good? Not really.

    Luckily these fish typically live in bodies of water with other excellent tasting fish, such as Walleye, Crappie, Catfish, or Perch. So enjoy the hard-fighting and water jumping fish for sport, but practice catch and release and save the frying pan for another type of fish.

  • License and Regulations

    In the United States, Smallmouth Bass are frequently grouped together in the broad category of Black Bass. Black Bass includes Smallmouths, Largemouth Bass, and Spotted Bass. This is important to know when researching the bag limits of the body of water you'll be fishing.

    A typical length requirement is 12 inches, which means the fish has reached the age of three to five years. However, you should also check with your local fish and wildlife department for the specific rules for your fishing spot.

  • Interesting Facts

    • Smallmouth Bass will build nests close to where they built a nest the previous year. In fact, they will stay within 150 yeards of last year's spawning nest.
    • The oldest age recorded is 26 years.
    • You can tell their age by looking to see how faded the lines on the side of the fish are.
    • It takes 3 to 5 years for them to reach 12 inches in length.
    • Other names for Smallmouth Bass include Bareback Bass, Brown Bass, Green Trout, Red Eye, and Smallie.
    • The dorsal fin has between 13 to 15 rays.
    • Its upper jaw sticks out to near the middle of their red-colored eyes.

What is the difference between largemouth bass and smallmouth bass?

Largemouths have a break between their dorsal fins, Smallmouths don't. The second and biggest difference is their mouth shape. Largemouths grow more prominent and larger mouths.

How do you catch smallmouth bass?

What is the world record smallmouth bass?

How long does Smallmouth Bass live?

What are the predators of the smallmouth bass?