It's the time of year that a lot of small mouth bass fisherman look forward to each year. The time when the air temps are cold and the water temps reaches that magical 48 to 53 degree range. This may sound like a cold time of the year and it is, but to a small mouth bass angler it means that some of the hottest fishing of the year is here. The small mouth unlike the large mouth will remain active in the cooler winter water.
After the water temps fall below the 50 degree range the large mouth bass will become much less active and will move to deeper warmer areas of the lake to hold till spring. But the small mouth bass will remain active all winter and this is also a big fish season. Some people ask how you can tell a small mouth bass from a large mouth bass. There are several ways to tell them apart. Both of these bass have what is called a lateral line that runs the full length of the fishes body the lateral line runs down the back of the bass.
The lateral line is a series of nerves that connect to the brain and nerves system of the bass. A bass uses this to detect vibrations coming from a bait fish or crawdad or some type of food splashing around on the surface. And also to detect danger. On a large mouth the lines on the fish will run horizontally with the body of the fish.and on the small mouth the body lines will run vertically on the body of the bass. Another way to tell the difference in the two bass is to look at the mouth of the fish The mouth oh the large mouth runs much farther back than the small mouth does. But you can ask any bass angler that has caught both large mouth and small mouth bass and most will tell you that the small mouth bass will fight and pull harder than the large mouth does. During this time of year the small mouth in the deeper clear lakes will start to school up on key main lake structure.
Areas like steep sloping points and deep chunk rock banks and under water humps and where two or more creek channels meet are hot spots for winter smallies . Look for these types of areas to start your fishing. As for bait choices you can use the water temps as a guide. When the water temps are in the high to mid 50 degree range you can throw a top water or a buzz bait. With some explosive top water strikes.Then when it cools down a few more degrees you can throw a crank bait or a spinner bait. Then while the water is in the low 50 degree range you can go to a jig or tube bait. Also this whole time you can also use live bait like a shinner or chub in you prefer. Then in the coldest time of the winter you can fish the float and fly. A lot of fisherman do not know much about this deadly winter small mouth pattern but I am going to do a full story on this later.
There are several top winter small mouth lakes like Dale hollow lake, Lake Cumberland, Laural lake, Paintsville lake and Cherokee and Norris lakes in Tenn. Give some of this winter small mouth fishing a try and good fishing.