Fishing the flats can be just as productive as fishing the drop-offs for smallmouth bass. During the spring, smallmouth bass will come onto the flats in bays and along shorelines to get ready to spawn. If you are fishing in clear water, the sight fishing can be unbelievable during this time of year. Swimming grubs and tubes can be very effective for active bass on the flats during the spring. Once bass are on the beds, tubes, grubs and soft plastics work well, but you may need to jig them repeatedly in the bed to get a strike. Shaky head jigs and even drop-shot rigs can help you twitch your bait without moving it out of the bed. A quick catch and release is key for getting the big females back on their beds without doing them any harm.
Once the spawn is over and the fish move deeper, anglers can still do well fishing the flats. The shallow water areas that have a hard bottom such as sand and rock will still hold some bass during the early morning, evening and at night. Smallmouth bass can be found as shallow as 1 to 2 feet deep during lowlight conditions, but the better flats will have water in the 2 to 8 foot range with some deep water nearby. Bass will move onto the flats to find an easy meal, then they will move back into deeper water. During the summer and fall, smallmouth bass may be found in 20 to 40 feet of water, but the flats can still offer some good fishing during the lowlight conditions, so don’t rule out the flats during this time of year.