Smallmouth Bass Feeding
Crayfish or crawfish (as they’re called in the southern United States), are their top prey and will always land a good sized bass if they’re the right size.
Small crayfish will quickly be gobbled up by other local fish like rock bass and perch. Crayfish may be the top food for Smallmouth Bass, but it’s also the top food for many other predatory fish. So picking a larger crayfish will be a bigger temptation for a larger Smallmouth Bass than a small bait.
They also enjoy minnows, both fatheads and golden shiners, insects including dragonflies, mayflies, damselflies and other small fish species.
Despite being active predators, Smallmouth Bass are ambush predators. They lay in wait in brush piles, around rocks, fallen trees and river bank outcrops and dart out when prey swim by.
However like any fish they are easily spooked.
Ideal Water Temperature
Smallmouth bass feed very little during cold water periods and become lethargic during these times. Feeding picks up in the spring when the water temperature exceed 45 degrees and gets in full gear above 50 with 65°F to 78°F being their optimum range. Food consumption peaks at these water temperature.
Feeding falls back off in the fall when water temperature drops below 40°F/5°C in fall. However in some high-competition waters, Smallmouths continue to feed through the ice-cover season.
A wide range of natural and artificial baits or lures are successful. These include crankbaits, plastic jerkbaits, such as Rapala Husky Jerks or Rapala X-Raps, spinnerbaits and all types of soft plastic lures including curly tail grubs or tubes with lead head jigs.
Smallmouths can be caught with a fly rod using a dry or wet fly, nymphs, streamers, or imitations of larger aquatic creatures such as crawfish or leeches. Floating topwater popper fly patterns are also popular for smallmouth fishing.
Remember that Smallmouth Bass actively feed around fallen debris, boat docks and rocky shorelines. However they are suspicious of lures at this time of the season.