During our summer months, we simply fish where the preferred forage is for Smallmouth. All of those rocky shorelines and riprap that are bad for fishing Walleye because of snags are great for Smallmouth. Smallmouth love crayfish, and they are plentiful in those rocks. During the summer, fishing Smallmouth is a visual event. I slowly survey the shoreline, looking for rock piles with shade between the large boulders. Smallmouth set up for comfort in these small shade areas, which provide them great concealment for ambush.
In late summer the Smallmouth tend to be deeper, just like our Walleye and Muskie. They still keep towards the shoreline, but you must go deeper with your offering. They tend to move up and down in depth daily, so be flexible and try other depths.
My favorite time of year to catch the larger Smallmouth Bass is fall. As the water cools and the Crayfish and other shallow bait fish are depleted, the larger Smallmouth move out into the larger portions of the lake and set up on top of our reefs systems.
The key to catching these larger fish is to fish right on top of the reef in the shallowest part. If your reef tops out at 10 ft, with 30 ft off the edges, fish over the 10 ft top of the reef. They also use a few of our larger extremely rocky shore-lined islands with major points coming off those islands. Fall is a great time to pick up a trophy Smallmouth Bass.
A great way to catch Smallmouth Bass with a youngster in the boat is with a slip bobber and live bait. Floating a leech or crawler makes for great family fun, and you don't need to go any farther than our dock - or any other dock - on Canyon Lake. Smallmouth love the shade and protection, and are willing to give you a great fight.
Artificial lures are exciting and productive tools in catching Smallmouth Bass. Casting near the shore with a floating Rapala is great in the early season, as well as those quiet summer mornings. Small crank baits are great for bouncing off the rocks and structure down a bit deeper in the summer. Burning a rattle trap will put several nice fish in the boat as well.
In the fall, I prefer using larger minnows over the top of reefs and off rocky points and islands. Either jig fishing or floating a slip bobber over the cover works well, too.
Smallmouth Bass is one of the few fish that have a protected season on them. Before July 1st which is used as a spawning date cut off you are allowed 2 fish both under 14 inches however after July 1st you are allowed four fish with no size limitations.
If you have never fished for Smallmouth, then you have missed something special. Pound for pound outfight any largemouth bass I have ever caught. I love our Smallmouth because they are a great fish for young people. I have had clients, floating a slip bobber rig dressed with live bait, catch 20 or more in an outing! For young people or a beginning angler, success brings more success so I appreciate the Smallmouth as a resource on Canyon. Most of my Smallmouth fishing is done visually over rocks and down timber and when I can find both together it usually pays dividends. We have enjoyed excellent Smallmouth fishing, and I want to thank all of you who catch and release those larger females to help our fishery remain strong!