Locating early spring smallmouth can be somewhat of a challenging task. However, once you learn and understand a little bit about their migration patterns you can greatly increase your odds of locating smallmouth bass in early spring. If you are thinking about doing some early spring smallmouth bass fishing, check the water temperature, and consider these facts.
The pre-spawn smallmouth bass period can be broken down into 3 phases based on water temperature. These phrases are not carved in stone but will give you a general idea of where to look for and locate smallies during pre-spawn which takes place in early spring. The 3 phases are temperature dependent and the fish behavior and location are different for each
Phase 1 – Water Temp. 46-48 degrees
As the water temperature rises into the mid 40's smallmouth bass will still remain in deeper water but will move moving closer to their waterfall water spawning area's. When the water temperature reaches 46 to 48 degrees they will start to disperse and begin filtering into shallow water, usually less than 10 feet deep, in search of food and / or nesting sites. Keep in mind that crayfish spawn during this time so lures that imitate crayfish are a good option during this phase.
Phase 2 – Water Temp. 48-52 degrees
When the water temperature approaches 50 degrees, both male and female smallmouth will be in a full-fledged migration pattern. Most of the fish will now be in shallow water aggressively feeding, moving, and searching for nesting sites. Cover such as rocks, weeds, fallen trees, docks, or any shallow cover in water 3 to 8 feet deep can attract fish.
Phase 3 – Water Temp. 53-55 degrees
As the water temperature approaches the mid 50's, aggressive behavior starts to take a downswing. The males will begin sweeping out nests in shallow gravel, rocks, sand or other suitable bottom composition depending on the features and structure of the lake you are fishing on. The females will move back out to deer water close to drop offs at this time and wait until they are ready to spawn before moving again again. Males can be done in very shallow water at this time. You will need to move to deer water to catch the females during this phase.