Smallmouth bass can often be found in the shallows, especially during the spring and early summer. As water temperatures warm in the spring, smallmouth bass will move into the bays, inlets and up near the shallows along the shorelines as they prepare for the spawn. Once water temperatures warm into the mid to upper 50s, you should be able to catch plenty of smallmouth bass in water from 2 to 8 feet deep. Bass will be found around rocks, laydowns, weeds, docks and other types of shallow water cover.
Once the spawn is over, most of the smallmouth bass will move into deeper water and they will remain deeper during the summer and fall months. Since smallmouth bass like to roam the deeper open waters around reefs and shoals, you can still find a lot of smallmouth bass fairly shallow in the summer and the fall, but it will usually be because they are moving into the shallows to feed. Don’t rule out the shallows in the summer and fall because you can still catch some nice bass shallow early in the morning, late in the evening and at night.
Use Lighter Weights
Simple enough. If you’re swimming a grub or some other type of soft plastic, go with a lighter weight so you’re not getting hung up every other cast.
Learn How to Sight Fish
Sight fishing can be awesome in the spring when smallmouth bass are in the shallows. Keep the sun behind you, get a good pair of polarized glasses and find some awesome spots to fish.
Make Longer Casts
When smallmouth bass are in the shallows, they can spook easily. In clear water, if you make real long casts, you will definitely get more bites. In murky water, it’s not as important of a tip, but it will still help though. In shallow water, you can be seen and heard very easily.
Use Swimming Baits in Shallow Water
To cover water faster, try swimming a variety of baits such as grubs, ringworms, smaller finesse worms and minnow type baits. Most of the time when smallmouth bass go into the shallows, they are looking for food. Present them a swimming bait that is trying to flee the scene and you will get more bites.
Break out the Wacky Worms
A well placed wacky worm on a weightless rig or finesse jighead is one of the better ways to catch smallmouth bass when they are in the shallows. Find productive water, cast bait, let it fall, twitch it up and wait. Repeat until your arms are tired from catching so many bass.
Use Topwater Lures From Late Spring Through Early Fall
Once water temperatures warm into the 60s, the topwater bite can be quite good. It all depends on the situation and the body of water of course. On some bodies of water, the topwater bite can be excellent and on other bodies of water, the water temperature can be the same, but for some reason, there are no smallmouth bass hitting on the surface. If you can find the bass willing to hit a topwater lure, it can be some of the most exciting fishing you can experience.