Photo by Jason Sealock/Wired2Fish

Spring Smallmouth Fishing Tips: Brush Off the Cold and Brush Up Your Skills

As January fades and we move toward spring, many anglers come out of hibernation and get trigger happy to be back on the water.

Spring Smallmouth

Some of us have braved the elements and fished through the winter but with a new season, comes new opportunities.

Let’s take a look at some spring smallmouth fishing tips  on how to catch more smallmouth bass just after ice out!

Spring Smallmouth Fishing Tips

In this article, we are talking early spring, pre-spawn conditions.  Water temperatures are going to be in the 40s and 50s, depending on where you live.

Location, location, location

The first step to increasing your odds of a successful trip is to think about where you will find bronzebacks.  They will be transitioning from their wintering holes and spreading out to eventually get to spawning areas and areas that hold food.

In lakes, they will often move to deep water main points.  They often like a harder bottom with gravel or chunk rock but will often be near schools of baitfish.

In rivers, they will begin to move to shallower areas adjacent to their wintering holes. Areas where springs or feeder streams come into the river can be key.  Avoid muddy bottoms or areas with dead leaves, etc. Look for pea gravel as well or rip rap banks.

The Ima Flit can be found here.


There are a number of baits that you can use just after ice out and you never know from day to day, what is going to be your top bait but I would start with these three and move on from there if you aren’t having any luck

Suspending Jerk Bait
I love using jerk baits in these conditions.  There are so many great ones out there, it is hard to choose sometimes.  My top three brands are X rapsLucky Craft and Luck E Strike.  You can see those baits by clicking on the links.  The key here is to fish them slow when the water is cold. Jerk the bait a couple of times and let it sit for varying amounts of time until you see what the smallies want.  This can vary from 2 seconds to as long as 2 minutes. Keep changing it up all the way back to the boat.

My next go to bait is a a tube jig or some other soft plastic creature jig.  The biggest key here, especially if you are fishing rivers with decent current or deeper lakes, is to make sure you use enough weight that the tube makes contact with the bottom a lot.  This is critical for your success.  There are many tubes to choose from.  I like 4 inch tubes for lakes and 3.5 inch or smaller tubes for rivers. Jig head weights can range from 1/8 to 1/4, most of the time. Color should match the forage in your area.  If bass are feeding on bait fish, the purple colored baits can be very effective.

In addition to these top favorites, curly tail grubs fished on a ball-head jig can be a great search bait and can be bounced on the bottom or twitched through the middle of water column. Crankbaits fished slowly can be quite effective and some days, you may find that a slow rolled spinnerbait will fire bronzebacks up.  Those are some fun days!

Try to control your fishing fever…

Tight Lines

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