Their willingness to take various baits, lures, and flies makes them a great target for sportspeople of all levels.
They might not be as big as their bigger relatives, but pound for pound, they fight hard. Couple this with their beautifully mottled complexion, and you can understand their attraction to all anglers.
World Record Smallmouth Bass, All Angling Record
David Hayes holds the world record for the biggest smallmouth bass. The bass weighed 11 pounds, 15 ounces (5.41 kg), and is the All-Tackle world record for smallmouth bass. The fish was caught in Dale Hollow Reservoir, Tennessee, back in 1955 while David Hayes was trolling along the reservoir’s edges.
Dale Hollow Lake, Tennessee, is known for its record smallmouth bass and has produced some monster fish over the years. In fact, 3 of the heaviest fish have come from Dale Hollow Lake.
The 11 pounds, 15 ounces was the record for smallmouth bass, but it had its fair share of controversy. Hayes was accused of adding weight to the fish on weigh-in at the dock, which led to Hayes being denounced, but this was all sorted out over time, and Haye’s record stood for 41 years.
Paul E. Beal caught a 10 pound, 8-ounce smallmouth bass 30 years after Haye’s record fish. Beal caught his fish in the same lake, Dale Hollow, using a plastic grub.
Terry Dodson caught a bass of 9 pounds, 6 ounces in Lake Jocassee, South Carolina, in 2001 while using a diving plug. The bass crushed the bait 5 minutes into Terry’s fishing morning.
Dr. E. Scott Yarbo caught his smallmouth bass, which weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces on the Counce, Tennessee, in 1998 while using his 3/8-ounce jig head.
World Record Smallmouth Bass on a Fly Rod
One of the biggest international game fish world records for smallmouth bass is the bass caught by Meredith J. McCord in 2018.
The bass weighed 3-pound, 6-ounce and is the women’s 6 pounds tippet class world record.
The fish was taken on a surface popper and safely released to fight another day.
Another notable record catch was Colin McKeown in 2014 while shooting an outdoor show. The fish weighed 7 pounds and measured 22” long with a girth of over 15”.
This bass fell for a white game-changer-fished subsurface along with numerous other fish.
What is a Smallmouth Bass?
The Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) is a popular fish to catch in the Northern United States, particularly in the East.
This beautiful spotted species provides endless entertainment and excitement to all forms of anglers.
Native to the United States the smallmouth bass is favored for its hard fighting ability when it takes your fly.
They have an elongated body and are brownish-green in color, covered in small black spots. They have a tell-tale red eye that can’t is missed.
Their life span is usually 10-12 years, with the females growing bigger than the males.
The smallmouth bass is known for its aerial acrobatics when hooked and often spits the fly on these aerials. They don’t do well in captive waters but thrive in all-natural ecosystems, with their only predator being larger bass.
Where to target Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth bass prefers calm, clear waters with rocky bottoms that give them places to hide. They will hide in deep water between rocks, among water vegetation, or under the roots and limbs of sunken trees.
Your best place to target these fish will be in the shadier parts of the water system, as this is where they will hold and move in and out to feed.
They prefer waters between 66 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (18- 20 degrees Celcius)
Tips for catching Smallmouth Bass on a fly rod
Fish for bass during low light hours. Yes, you can catch bass throughout the day, but you really up to your success rate if you fish early and fish late.
Don’t trout set with bass. ‘Trout set’ is when you lift your rod to strike as you would when catching trout. Rather strip set the hook like when you are fly fishing in saltwater.
Be sure to cover the big bodies of water. Instinct tells us to focus on the overgrown small concentrated bodies of water, but those bigger lakes hold some monsters. Break the water system down and fish it in sections taking notes on all structures and surroundings.
When you fish topwater flies like bugs and poppers, allow the tracking bass to look at the fly. More often than not, we tend to strip faster when we see a bass following our fly and eventually run out of water with no take. Try pausing the fly for a few seconds, and often they will eat as soon as you start the strip again; it’s amazing to watch!
When the sun sets, use bigger flies. After dark or low light conditions, bring out hose 8 wt rods and larger streamers.
Don’t overlook the deeper pools. The big bass like to hold in these pools. Use and sink tip fly line to get that streamer down to them.
You can also check out our Best Fly Rod For Bass to pick the best fly rod for you.
While you can’t compare them to the larger relatives, the smallmouth bass is in a league of their own.
I love targeting them in the early spring just before they spawn; at this time, they are super aggressive and tend to smash anything that crosses their path.
They are great fun on a 6 wt fly rod and put up a hard fight right until the net. They are known to be tough fish but please treat them with the same care you would a trout making sure they have properly recovered from their fight before you let them swim off.
Good luck on your next smallmouth fishing adventure.
Happy fishing and tight lines