Know the seasons
Most smallmouth fanatics kows that smallies like it hot. Fact. They become more active as the seasons change from winter to summer and reach peak activity at the hight of summer.
The problem when targeting big smallies is that they also become nocturnal and prefer to hunt in low light conditions and darkness, preferring to hang out in deep holes and areas that’s difficult to reach during daytime hours. If you are after that 20 inch bass, small fish can be a pest and getting your fly in front of a trophy fish can be a challenge.
My favourite time to target trophy smallmouth is winter. One of the biggest misconceptions about smallmouth bass is that they hibernate and stop feeding in winter. While it is certainly true that they are less active when the water temperature drops, they definitely keep on feeding throughout winter. What’s more, it is often the biggest fish that make an appearance at this time.
Because smallies become more active as the water temperature rises, a sharp surge in temperature can trigger an increase in feeding activity. On a clear sunny winters day, a body of water can rise as much as four degrees as the day progresses and the sun warms the water. By looking out for spells of warmer balmy weather and always carrying a thermometer, I have caught plenty of 20 inch bass right in the middle of winter. Remember that the fish’s metabolism has slowed down dramatically and won’t move out of their way to intercept a fly, so you have to stick the fly right in their kitchen. Concentrate your efforts on slackwater or eddies and use a dead drift or a very slow retrieve on a long leader. Stillwaters can also be very productive at this time.