Largemouth bass receive most of their fishing pressure from anglers seeking them in lakes. Anglers fish for smallmouth, on the other hand, in rivers and streams. However, both species exist in both venues. By knowing where to target both species in the waters where most people do not think to fish for them, an angler can have a chance at some large fish that have received little pressure from other fishermen. People tend to ignore largemouths in rivers and streams. Fishing for them in a river involves identifying where they may be. Largemouths swim in the backwaters of rivers. They avoid the swift current and look for places where there is ample cover and food. Look for them in inlets and where the water is calm. Spots where a river widens from narrow fast current to slower waters will likely have places where the shoreline creates an area of slow and deeper water. Rivers with a somewhat steep drop-off and a wooded riverbank offer largemouth bass habitat and cover. Conversely, the smallmouth prefers the faster currents, and it will be behind boulders and logs. In lakes, however, smallmouths will not be where largemouths swim. Rather than be under the weeds in the shallows, the smallmouth will head for deeper waters, especially in the summer. Look for them in deep holes and channels. Using a topographical map of the lake can help you hone in on the deepest waters, where smallmouth will be feeding.
The wind is not typically a factor when fishing for bass in rivers, because the contour of the land usually provides a modicum of protection from the wind. The current is always the more important factor on a river in regards to bass. However, on a lake or pond, the wind can come into play. Ideal conditions for largemouth are no wind and calm water. This allows the angler to use topwater lures, such as buzzbaits and surface plugs. The bass will be able to see and hear these lures from far off with no wind. A slight breeze does not effect fishing much and can improve it for smallmouths. They will be prone to not being as flighty if there are light breezes. The fish have a harder time seeing what is above them under this scenario. When the wind is blowing hard, fishing for bass can be tough on a lake. In such weather, it is better to determine what direction the wind may be forcing the tiny organisms that bait fish feed on to go. Identifying what shoreline these creatures wind up on is important. This is where the bass will go to feed on the fish that feed on the organisms.
Playing the Bass
When a bass is on the line, the angler needs to prepare for its acrobatic tendencies. Smallmouth will come out of the water on their jumps. Largemouth normally will break the surface but won't come all the way out on every jump. Once the hook is set, the line has to be taut. Otherwise, the bass can shake loose from the hook on one of its jumps. One way for an angler to know when a jump is imminent is to watch her line where it meets the water. If the fish is heading up toward the surface, the line will indicate this. The portion of the line closest to the hook will gradually rise up and break the surface before the fish does. This is when it is vital to offer no slack. Sometimes the angler can avert a jump by reeling in hard when he sees a fish wants to jump. The jumping tends to subside the closer the fish is to the boat or shore, but the angler still has to net large fish. The proper way to do so is to try lead the fish over the submerged net and then scoop it up from underneath. No matter how tired a bass is, it will usually try to bolt if it sees a net being brought right at it.