When spring approaches, finding late winter smallmouth bass can be akin to the proverbial needle in the haystack. They bunch up in large schools, but they’re sometimes in really tiny areas. They’re also not nearly as willing to strike as they are the rest of the season.
However, if you can find them – and get them to bite, it can make for some of the most unbelievably good fishing you can have all year.
We can’t get out there and catch them for you, but we can help you narrow down where to look for those late winter smallmouth!
1. Bluff Walls
Like all bass, smallies love vertical structure in cold water. Look for bluff banks, and target the ends, ledges, and any cover located along the bluff like laydowns, rubble runouts, or docks. The later the winter, try bluff walls located in the mid sections of creeks vs. main lake bluffs. Use a float and fly, jig, or blade bait and slowly work the bottom.
2. Tailraces Of Dams
Many folks think smallmouth migrate out of current in the winter, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Some of the biggest smallmouth in a lake will gang up below dams in late winter and can be caught by patient anglers. They will sit in the eddy behind a big rock, or even in a run and wait for passing baitfish. Try slow dragging a tube or shakey head with a craw around deeper stretches and focus on the slack eddy behind anything in the water.
3. Late Winter Smallmouth Cribs
When present in a lake, smallmouth love to finish their winter on man-made fish attractors or “fish cribs.” These are typically large brush, pvc, or concrete structures designed to provide cover. They attract baitfish, and in turn, late winter smallmouth. Locate them with your electronics, and fish them vertically with a drop shot, spoon, or blade bait.
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