The abundant, bronze-backed smallmouth bass in Minnesota have been thrilling sport anglers with their aggressiveness and strength for over a hundred years, and have lately been attracting more angling attention. Smallmouth bass are found most often in streams with rocky bottoms and noticeable current, or along gravelly lake shorelines. They need a rocky, clear water habitat, and do not do well in small lakes or ponds with sedimentary bottoms and abundant vegetation.
The smallmouth bass mouth extends to the eye, but not beyond the rear edge of the eye, when the mouth is closed. This is the distinguishing characteristic separating it from largemouth bass, which have longer mouths that extend beyond the rear edge of the eye. Smallmouths can also be recognized by sides with a bronze colored background. In contrast, largemouths are lighter colored, with a silvery-green background color.
Although smallmouth are good to eat, their primary angling appeal is the fight they give. When hooked, they often leap and break the water’s surface, flipping in an attempt to lose the hook. Anglers enjoy the thrill of seeing their take as they reel in the leaping smallmouth.
To date, the smallmouth bass world record is held by a 12-pounder caught by fish and wildlife officers in Tennessee last year. Many Minnesota anglers report sighting smallmouth in the same size range in some of northern Minnesota’s angling hotspots.
To fish for smallmouth bass, you only need a basic rod and reel spooled with at least 6-pound test line, or a 5- to 7-weight fly rod. Fly fishers should try flies tied to resemble crayfish, minnows, or large nymphs, or popper flies if you want to attract surface strikes. In the low light of early or late day, cast your line near the shore, preferably in areas with submerged rocks and logs but very little aquatic vegetation.
If you are hoping to hook some smallmouth bass on Mille Lacs Lake, try Jim DaRosa Guide Service. Jim DaRosa lives on Mille Lacs and guides exclusively for smallmouth bass from June through mid September. He has the know-how to help anglers of every ability level, whether fly-fishing or with traditional spinning and casting tackle. Contact Jim at http://www.fishsmallmouthbass.com/.