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Smallmouth Vs Largemouth Bass


Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass are two favorite freshwater fish in America, and whether you are a professional or simply an enthusiast, you can catch either of them. Black Bass fishing is a multi-billion dollar industry, and lots of tournaments and brands specialize in catching both of these types of Bass

However, you might be left wondering what the difference is between them. When you first look at these fish side by side, you will notice the similarities between them. They are the same shape and almost always the same size, and they often both show up in the same waters. 

Smallmouth Vs Largemouth Bass

However, these are two very different species, and if you want to catch one or the other, you need to know how to tell them apart. To help you with this we are going to tell you everything you need to know about these two fish, including how they look, where they live, and how and when you can catch them.

How to Tell Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass Apart

One of the best ways to tell the Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass apart is by looking at their size. Largemouth bass, as you may have gathered by the name, will grow much bigger. Smallmouth Bass will usually reach around 10 pounds, but Largemouth Bass can double this number when it comes to their weight.

Another way that you can tell them apart is by looking at their coloring. Smallmouth are often referred to as Brown Bass, and Largemouth are often referred to as Green Bass. Although, both of these fish can range in color depending on their age, location, and other factors.

However, even if both of the fish are a similar color, you will note that Smallmouth bass will have vertical stripes, and Largemouth Bass will have dark and horizontal lines.

Largemouth Bass have large mouths, and their upper jaw extends past their eye, whereas the jaw of a Smallmouth will usually be in line with the eye. They also have different fins. Largemouth have a break between their dorsal fins, but Smallmouth do not. 

Once you have caught your fair share of each of these fish, you will find it much easier to tell the difference between them. In the water, Smallmouth Bass are usually more active than Largemouth Bass. They will jump more as they try to throw the hook, but Largemouth Bass won’t typically jump more than once.

Where Can I Find Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass?

Now that you know exactly how you can tell these two fish apart, you are probably wondering where you can find them. Smallmouth will generally prefer colder waters, and they are more common in northern waters. However, Largemouths tend to prefer warmer spots, and they thrive in southern lakes.

These two fish can live together, but you won’t usually find them in the same part of a lake or river.

Largemouth Bass Habitat

Largemouth Bass love to stay under cover, and this can be anything from stumps and rocks to weed beds and thick grasses. Thick cover is the best place to look for these fish,and they will even stay in cover when they are feeding.

This makes it much easier to find them in murky water as you won’t have to spot the fish, only the cover that they are hiding in. 

When it comes to rivers, Largemouth will usually avoid strong currents, and they will typically rest in current breaks. If you manage to find a sheltered break with thick cover close to a fast current, then you are likely to find Largemouth Bass.

Smallmouth Bass Habitat

Smallmouth Bass also like cover, but they do not go into it. They generally prefer to hunt around cover. They are also well known for chasing bait fish out in open water, which makes it much easier to find them in clear water than in murky water. 

They are also much more likely to be in deeper and more open water. They also like to hunt in hard currents, so if you are looking for them in a river, you should ignore the breaks and look for them in the fast-moving water instead.

The Best Time to Fish for Large and Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass held above water

The best time to fish for these types of fish will usually depend on where you are fishing. Every body of water will have its own peak season, which is based on things like vegetation, climate, depth, and more. However, there are some rules that you should keep in mind when you are fishing for them.

When to Fish for Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass will spend the summertime in shallow bays and creeks, and they like to find a spot that has both good cover and access to structure. This structure will include things like dock stumps and bridge pilings, which makes summer the easiest time of the year to catch these fish.

There are many people that would suggest that cloudy and drizzly days are the best for Largemouth, and others say that the most important thing to be aware of is the wind. Anything more than a slight breeze can mean that the fish roam around the grass, rather than staying in one place.

This can lead to them being harder to find.

When to Fish for Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth are completely different, and they tend to stick to shallow waters when they are spawning in spring, and head to deeper waters once the weather starts to get warmer. In the late summer, they can be quite difficult to find. They typically hunt out in the open and rarely stay in groups.

They will also usually head back to the shallows again in the fall, which can make them easier to find.

You will need lots of light to be able to find Smallmouth Bass, which is why bright days and calm waters are the best conditions for finding them. This makes it much easier to spot the fish in the water. Strong winds can also make it hard to find them.

Targeting Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass

Every angler will have their own tactics when it comes to finding both Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, which means that there are lots of different methods and approaches to follow. You can use anything from soft plastic jerkbaits and finesse worms to spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and football jigs to lure out these fish. 

You can use almost any lure for this purpose, but your approach may vary, depending one which of these fish that you are trying to catch. We will leave some helpful fishing tips for both of these species below.

Largemouth Bass Fishing Tips

The best way to hook Largemouth Bass is to flip and pitch into the grasses where they hide. If the fish is on the bed, they may ignore your lure unless it is right next to them. Large plastics or jigs work the best in these conditions.

Smallmouth Bass Fishing Tips

Smallmouth Bass will go after almost any lure that you present them with, including crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and vibrating jigs. They are also more likely to take a lore more quickly when they are bedding.

However, you should know that they won’t go for a heavy line, as they can see it much better than a Largemouth can, especially when it is light outside. 

Largemouth Bass Vs Smallmouth Bass Summary

Both of these types of Bass are great for different reasons, which makes it difficult to say if one is better than the other. So, you might want to try your hand at catching both of these fish to find out what works the best for you.

There are so many different methods and approaches for catching both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, so you are bound to find something that works for you.

1 comment

  • I love me some largemouth bass fishing. One of the best fighting fish around. I tend to find them in close to the shore, often getting a hit just before getting the line back on the reel.