Misconceptions about Summer Smallmouth

I continue to see myths, misconceptions and old wives tales being bandied about concerning summertime smallmouth. So here’s my attempt to set the record straight.

Fish Deep

Over and over again, I continue to see the idea being promoted that when the temperatures get hot, smallmouth go deep. I’ll just say this…my biggest smallmouth have all come from less than 10 feet of water. That includes June, July and August.

20″ smallmouth – middle of summer- middle of the day – 8 ft of water

Dawn & Dusk

Don’t get me wrong, dawn and dusk are my favorite times to fish during the summer as well. But if I’m truthful, it has more to do with how hot it is than with my overall fishing success. My experience on smallmouth and especially river smallmouth has been that between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm have been responsible for the majority of the biggest smallmouth.

Fish Fast

I suppose that the idea of using fast-moving reaction baits for summertime smallmouth comes from the notion that the water temperature is at its warmest and smallmouth metabolism is at it’s highest. But what high metabolism really means is that smallmouth have to feed more often and are less responsive to reaction baits. They can be picky sight feeders who can discriminate on very subtle visual cues. Slower is often better for the biggest of summertime smallmouth.

If no bites, then they moved

I’m seeing this more and more. This idea, that smallmouth are very nomadic and are hard to locate and that they move around a bunch. The truth is that when smallmouth move to certain locations it’s to loaf and not feed. So while they may be “there”, they are not going to feed. While when they move to other areas they are there to feed – period. That is their only reason for setting up in certain spots. This explains better smallmouth and location that some sort of random moving about.

Match the Hatch

The bulk of the “hatch” is healthy, and capable of escape. Using a bait that mimics the rest of the school and seems healthy is not the best way to trigger a big smallmouth into striking. Use something that seems different, appears weak and has few moving parts and appendages that only act to serve as a negative cue over time.

Smallmouth are dumb and aggressive

This falls under the larger category of “bass have small brains” and “don’t give bass too much credit”. It’s easy to create a narrative of a hungry, angry smallmouth raring to go and attack the first thing that moves, especially in the summertime. While certain aspects of that are true with most smallmouth, the biggest among them reach maturity from demonstrating constraint, learning from negative cues and only feeding when success is all but guaranteed.


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