Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little BWOs)
2. Light Cahills
3. Cinnamon Caddis (mostly Abrams)
4. Eastern Pale Evening Duns
5. Little Short-horned Sedges
7. Green Sedges
8. Little Yellow Stoneflies
9. Golden Stoneflies
10. Slate Drakes
11. Little Green Stoneflies
Most available - Other types of food:
12. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
13. Inch Worms
Fly Fishing School - Where To Find Smallmouth Bass Each Season
Smallmouth Bass change their locations in lakes and rivers throughout the year. They have
specific seasonal movement patterns. In terms of the area of the river or lake, this could be short
migrations in the same general areas, or longer migrations of up to miles. It depends on the type
Smallmouth bass are rather inactive until the water reaches about 50 degrees but that doesn't
mean you can't catch them. They can be caught in water in the high thirties and low forties but
they want move over a few inches to take a fly. It has to be right in front of their nose. When the
water gets about 50 degrees they will start moving towards their spawning areas. In streams, this
migration can start at a lower water temperature than they actually spawn. The bass feed well
during this period of time.
Smallmouth spawn in the same areas year after year. Once you find them spawning in a
particular lake or stream, you can be assured they will be there in future years. That will change
only if major changes take place in the water or habitat. The exact locations smallmouth spawn
depends greatly on the type of water they live in.
Smallmouth move to nearby, deeper water once the spawn has ended. For a short period of time,
they don't feed at all, but then within a day or two, they will begin to feed very aggressively. This
doesn't mean they are easy to catch. Finding post spawn smallmouth can be more difficult
than finding them at other times. Again, it greatly depends on the type of water.
Summertime is the easiest time to find smallmouth bass. They reside in the same areas from year
to year. Once you find them during the Summer, in a lake or a stream, you can be assured they
will be there again the next year. They will hold on the same structure in a lake, year after year.
If crayfish are present, their location is almost always related to rocks because that's their favorite
food. They usually hold on the same structure until Fall. This location the smallmouth hold can
last all the way from the post spawn period until the weather cools the water in the Fall.
Depth is critically important but again, the smallmouth bass holding areas vary greatly with the
type of water. For example, In deep, very clear reservoirs and lakes, this may be as deep as 35
feet. In a lake that's commonly dingy or slightly stained, this may be only ten to twelve feet deep.
If it's a small stream, this may only be 4 feet deep because there may not be any deeper water
for them to hold in. In these cases, they always choose the deepest water.
Smallmouth will leave the deep water to feed but only in nearby areas and only under low light
conditions. The clearer the water, the more less likely they will venture shallow to feed during
daylight. They often feed at night in clear lakes and streams during the Summer.
In the early Fall months, the smallmouth may remain in the same exact locations but move more
often to shallow water to feed. Baitfish and crawfish are more prevalent in shallower water at this
time and the smallmouth bass will move there to feed on them. This also greatly depends on the
amount of light. In bright light conditions, the smallmouth will tend to stay in their normal holding
In the northern lakes and deep water southern lakes, as the upper water column cools off and
becomes the same temperature as the lower column of water, the lake will begin to turn over, or
the water near the surface will become cooler than the deep water. While it's near the same
temperature, top and bottom, it makes finding the trout even more difficult.
In the late Fall and Winter months, the smallmouth bass move to deeper water. They will come in
the shallows to follow baitfish when the water warms up from a period of warm weather, but
otherwise, they will remain in the deep water. Again, this is controlled more so by light than
temperature. In dingy lakes this may be 12 to 15 feet and in deep lakes as deep as 35 feet. Of
course, catching smallmouth bass on the fly becomes much more difficult in deep water. Sinking
lines must be used and they are not very easy to fish.
Although all of the above information is general and depends on the water, hopefully, it gives you
a good idea of the seasonal changes in the smallmouth's location during the changing seasons.
Local note: I originally wrote this for our Perfect Fly website and as it applies to smallmouth bass
in the U.S. and Canada. In our local rivers, streams and lakes near Great Smoky Mountains
National Park, smallmouth bass have a very diversified habitat. We don't have any natural lakes.
The lakes are man-made but some of them are deep and clear enough that they are very similar
to some of the natural lakes.
Smallmouth in our local creeks and small rivers that exit the park have a different habitat from the
smallmouth below dams, or in tailwaters. The habitat of the smallmouth below some of the deep,
clear North Carolina lakes is much different than that of the shallower, not so clear tailwaters of
some of the Tennessee lakes. The amount of light and the clarity of the water are two very
important factors in locating smallmouth and for that matter, in locating largemouth bass.
New Schedule of Daily
Mondays: Weather and Stream
Conditions Forecast - Coming Week
Tuesdays: Fly Fishing Strategies -
Which Flies To Use - Coming Week
Wednesday: Fishing Tales
Thursday: Smoky Mountains Fishing
Friday: Getting Started
Saturday: Fly Fishing School
Sunday: This Week's Featured Trout
More Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us with the dates you will be
fishing the park and we will send
you a list of our fly suggestions.
Please allow up to 24 hours for a
2. Call us at 800-594-4726 and we
will help you decide which flies you
3. Call or email us with a budget for
flies and we will select them and get
them to you in time for your trip.
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