Smallmouth Bass

10 Smallmouth Bass Facts

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March 18th, 2022

Smallmouth Bass are a warm-water fish species that is Native to Ontario. They can be invasive when introduced to new lakes and rivers as they are a top predator to a wide range of prey. They are a very popular sportfish due to their simplicity to catch and are an aggressive fish making the fight fun to reel in! Superior Country has a range of Outfitters, Lodges and Resorts that offer fishing services for Smallmouth Bass.

Smallmouth Bass

1. Scientific Name

Although commonly referred to as Smallies, Bucket Mouth, Lake Bass, Northern Bass and many other nicknames, their scientific name is Micropterus Dolomieu. They are apart of the Sunfish Family!

2. Life Span

The Smallmouth Basscan live up to 15-18 years in their natural wild habitat!

3. Size

While they average 2-5lbs and 10-20 inches in length, they do get larger! A trophy sized Smallmouth Bass is considered to be 7-9lbs. At any size they’re fun to catch. It is known that the further North Smallies are found, slower growth rate and smaller maximum size is found as their maturation corresponds directly to their habitat. Between age 2-4 they hit maturity and can begin their spawning cycles.

Samantha Nordland - bass

Related Article: 10 Perch Facts

4. Spawning

Smallies spawn in late spring – early summer, the spawning time depends on water temperature. During years where the ice stays on the water later, they’ll spawn later compared to a year where the ice is out early. As mentioned, they mature at 2-4 years and then will begin their cycles. Smallmouth Bass favor areas with sandy/gravely bottoms for spawning sites, they also favor shallow water, typically under 10 feet. They choose areas that provide some sort of cover, have it be fallen trees, heavy vegetation, rocks etc. While a female can produce anywhere from 5,000 to 14,000 eggs, a successful nest produces only 2,000 fry on average.

5. Habitat

Although they are a warm water species, they do enjoy cool water lakes and rivers with sandy, rocky and gravelly bottoms. They often seclude closer to shore in shallow water for the warmer temperatures. Smallmouth Bass enjoy harboring around shoals, fallen trees, and near drop offs.

6. Diet

The delicacy item to Smallmouths are crayfish which make up two thirds of their diet! However, they do have a wider pallet aside from crayfish. They do also feed on range of juvenile fish species, aquatic insects and smaller amphibians such as frogs.

7. Common Baits & Lures

Smallmouth Bass are considered to be “easy-catchers” and have become a favored sportfish due to this reason. Their high feeding times are early morning and evening, plan your Smallie fishing trip around these times. In-different from other fish species Smallmouth Bass are attracted to surface noise! Using topwater lures such as the Arbogast Jitterbug, Hula Popper, Buzzbaits, Topwater frogs and even Topwater Mice are proven “lucky charm” lures for Smallies. Aside from topwater lures, you can also find jigs heads with twister tails, crankbaits and spinnerbaits to be effective. If you’re using bait with your lure, leeches, minnows and of course crayfish are to reach for. A final must-have is the Rat-L-Trap Rocket Bomber, pictured below.

8. Appearance

Smallmouth Bass are deep body fish, considering they’re a type of Sunfish they have the “football” or oval-like shaped body. They typically have green / olive bodies, light yellow / cream colored bellies and a bar pattern that runs vertical on their body. The bar pattern on the side of a Smallies body are “broken” about quarter of the way down from the top of the back. They have joined dorsal fins. The front dorsal has 9-11 fin spikes on a mature fish while the rear dorsal fin is not near as “spikey”. The color of Smallies can change dramatically depending on size and age as well as habitat conditions. In clear water conditions the body will be darker with contrasted bar markings on the side. When in darker or cloudy water, their bodies will be lighter with blurred bars, not as noticeable due to the low contrast between the body and bar color.  Their upper jaw does not extend beyond the eye.

Troy Nicol - Bass

9. Smallmouth Bass – Invasive Species

Smallmouth Bass is a native species to the fresh waters of eastern-central North America. With the exception of Lake Superior, the original distribution of Smallmouth Bass was restricted to the Great Lakes – St Lawrence. However, extended into many of the waters throughout Southern and Northern Ontario with the expansion of the railways. Along with railways, they began showing up in more lakes and water systems due to the use of them as live bait which cause accidental introductions. They are considered to be invasive as they are top predators and feed on a variety of other juvenile fish species, affecting the population of native species. This has impacted salmon populations dramatically, affecting native populations, recreational and commercial fishing.

Smallmouth Bass

10. Ontario Record

The Ontario Record for largest Smallmouth Bass caught is a whopping 9.8 pounds!