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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We pretty much know that the habits and habitat of smallies across the country are pretty much the same except for forage species but what about water types? I have 2 lakes that I fish that have smallies plus I'm fortunate to have 2 rivers that are loaded with smallmouth so I consider myself a lucky man. Over the past 10 years of targeting mostly smallmouth I've noticed some radical differences in the fish coming from lakes as compared to their river cousins, I'm wondering if some of these differences are confined to the north or if it happens everywhere. The first, and most obvious difference is length to weight ratio, now I know that I'm never going to get the kind of pigs you guys have unless I make it down that way, which is on my list of things I want to do, but I have caught some good ones for this area. My biggest smallie was just a hair shy of 23" and weighed 5lbs. 4oz. and was taken in a river during late prespawn, my second biggest was on a lake and it measured 20.5" and weighed 5lbs. 1oz. and was caught in late summer, now had I caught that lake fish in the prespawn, I'm almost positive that it would have weighed more than the longer river fish. Last season I caught numerous river smallies in the 19" to 20" range and only 1 broke the 4lb. mark while the only 2 I caught out of the lake were both under 18" but almost as heavy as the bigger river smallies. The next big difference I noticed is the fight itself, now I know some will say you're fighting the current as well as the fish in a river but I've caught smallies in large slack water pools with little or no current and the fight was still as impressive, and while the fight was still strong in the lake fish, it was noticeably less intense as the fish don't break water as often or as spectacular as their river counterparts. Schooling is another thing that seems different, 5 years ago I was on the lake in early September and we foud the fish on a shallow flat adjacent to a main lake point, we boated 14 smallies in roughly 3 hours but the funny thing was the fish were all the same size, nothing bigger than 17" and nothing smaller than 14", now I know that doesn't seem strange but everytime I hit this lake, if the fish are bunched up and we're catching big fish, they're all big but in the river it isn't the same. I caught and released several good fish from a shallow pea gravel flat last year in the river but in between the good ones were dinks of 12" and less, now this has happened frequently, fish of different sizes being bunched up while the lake fish seem to school according to size. Aggressiveness is the other big difference, when the bite is on in the river it's awesome to say the least, if your cast is within 10' of a fish you will only get one maybe two cranks on your lure before it gets crushed, but on the lake it seems the fish follow or hesitate an extra second or 2 befor they commit an smash your bait. Yes, the lake fish hit with the same gusto but it's not as quick, but the lake smallies seem more willing to move a greater distance off the cover to grab your lure than the river fish. I've caught lake and river smallies that followed my lures all the way to the boat before striking but I've watched far more river fish give chase and turn away 5' later than I have lake smallies. Is it just coincidence that the fish are like this while I'm on the water or is there that much difference in their behavior from lakes to rivers?
 

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can't give answers on alot of it but i'll try. river smallies are more aggresive in hitting lures because with the current they have to decide quickly to pass or strike. As far as size...the lake smallies will usually weigh more because they probably have a better forage base, especially shad. And it would seem to me that the fish would grow slower and not be as fat due to the fact they are struggling against the current their entire life. that's all i can come up with maybe some more informed guys will chime in soon.
 

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As most know natures is in charge of how when and where it's creatures live and grow. Some times nature is altered and most times it is by man. If we all look back in time about 100 years before Corps of Engineers and TVA and other power companies began altering nature with the Hydro Electric Dams, Lakes as we know the now were few and far between. It was almost all rivers and creeks excluding the Great lakes. Now I am going to use the J.Percy Priest Reservoir for my example. Before J.Percy Priest Lake existed it was the Stones River and it had alot of Smallmouth Bass in it and they were all in the 3 and sometimes 4 pound catagory. Then there was J.Percy Priest Lake. Those same Smallmouths that lived in the river now had this great big body of water to spread out all over and all of a sudden the current for the most part is gone. The lake becomes a strange new place to live and finding food requires a complete new technique plus food was far more abundant than what little bit they had in their little area of the river.

Because of the abundance of food and the enormous living conditions They now had room to move around and feed at their leisure. It have been proven through scientific testing that all things in nature grow pretty much according to their surroundings. Fish are no different. A Smallmouth Bass living in an 18,900 acre lake has more room to grow larger than a Smallmouth bass that lives in a moderately deep hole 100 yards square in a river.

Now if your going to compare temprement there is no comparison. River Smallies are violently aggressive feeders and fighters. They are well adapt in using every drop of current to their total advantage and believe me they will use it to the max.

The Lake Smallies on the other hand have two unique responses when hooked. Their first instinct is to dive down and dig for that 80 + deep water, once they realize that is not going to work is when the show begins. I have seen Lake Smallies jump as high as 6 to 8 feet straight up out of the water when they decide it's time to fight you on top. At that moment is when you, the angler is put to your greatest test because that is where a big wise Smallie will Make you or Break you. Believe me I have had alot of them break me. Not my Line but my Heart......
I have seen several big brown fish in the 10 pound catagory come up and show themselves off while at the same time throwing my bait right back at the boat. My biggest Smallmouth to date that I have actually got to remove the hook from it's mouth was 9.30 lb beautiful Bronze fish I caught on Tims Ford Reservoir during a practice session prior to a PBF Inc. tournament in April 1999. Came in 5th over all that year in the tournament of 176 boats with three fish in my bag and all three were Brown fish and my bag weight was 15.70 and 18.90 won the event. I had 11 fish on that day, all brown and put 3 in the boat. To this day I still cannot get Smallies in the boat on Spinnerbaits on a somewhat regular basis but that day that was all they would take so I was forced to fish them regardless.

Do I live to fish for Smallies? Oh yea!!!!
about as much as I enjoy breathing..........
 

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smalljaw, can you tell you got my old ticker pumping with that post?????
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I got myself pumped up watching a Linders Angling Edge smallmouth video, it got me thinking about all the differences in the fish. I remember one day last year when things were tough and instead of going to slow moving bait I went to a floating jerkbait and began to work it super aggressively and getting a vicious strike and the fish coming to within inches of my grasp, I then realize this pig smallie is close, if not, 6lbs. and instead of putting the pressure on to land him quick, I hit the panic button and decide to let him make 1 last run to tire it out so it wouldn't throw the hook, well, it made a run alright, 2 seconds and my line went slack, I reel in my lure completely disgusted knowing I had my personal best smallie and a stupid mistake cost me big time!
 

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I got myself pumped up watching a Linders Angling Edge smallmouth video, it got me thinking about all the differences in the fish. I remember one day last year when things were tough and instead of going to slow moving bait I went to a floating jerkbait and began to work it super aggressively and getting a vicious strike and the fish coming to within inches of my grasp, I then realize this pig smallie is close, if not, 6lbs. and instead of putting the pressure on to land him quick, I hit the panic button and decide to let him make 1 last run to tire it out so it wouldn't throw the hook, well, it made a run alright, 2 seconds and my line went slack, I reel in my lure completely disgusted knowing I had my personal best smallie and a stupid mistake cost me big time!
It was not a stupid mistake smalljaw. I have done it many times because when you get a really big BronzeBack next to the boat and he gets a good look at the boat you can bet that fish is going to make that one last ditch effort to leave and it is instinct to allow the fish the time to tire out and that is normally when they will beat you, me and many other seasoned Smallie anglers.........
 

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It was not a stupid mistake smalljaw. I have done it many times because when you get a really big BronzeBack next to the boat and he gets a good look at the boat you can bet that fish is going to make that one last ditch effort to leave and it is instinct to allow the fish the time to tire out and that is normally when they will beat you, me and many other seasoned Smallie anglers.........




Ditto!!! We have all been there and then kicked ourselves for a long time after that!! Makes you
 

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Great observations on smallmouth differences and similarities. My largest SM was in a southern Ohio shallow river/stream. I took my flyrod this trip(2 blocks from my apartment) and noticed a guy fishing with a baitcaster (this is a waders stream well that and canoes from the rental place down stream) he said the bass weren't biting just the catfish I waded downstream to the 1st deep pool(in 24" of water even 30" is deep) and let one fly to the transition of riffles to calm. Murphys law I got hung on the 1st cast! About then my snag took off and jumped out of the water almost 2 feet I heard a big splash behind me but was intent on lipping this football. I didn't have a digital camera so I had to use my arm from the wrist to get a length of 23" and fat as a tick on a hound dog. Then I heard applause and came back to my senses and the guy upstream was blown away by what I caught that had obviously swam right by him. The large splash? Oh that was a guy in one of the canoes that upon seeing my smallie broach forgot where he was and stood up and fell out of the canoe.
 
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