The two best places to catch Wisconsin smallies
Pound for pound, smallmouth bass are among the hardest-fighting fish on the planet. Tie into a brawny bronze-back and you have a real fight on your hands.
Smallmouth bass are found throughout Wisconsin, inhabiting nearly every size and type of lake or waterway. They differ from their largemouth brethren in their choice of habitat, with smallies tending to feed in deeper water and largemouth preferring shallower areas. Largemouth love warm bays and weeds. Smallmouth bass tend to seek out cooler water and enjoy a slow current.
Although smallmouth bass can live anywhere, there two types of smallmouth bass habitat that produce the very best fishing.
The first is the mid-size river. Smallmouth bass are most at home in rivers, particularly medium-size, slow-moving rivers such as the Flambeau River in Rusk County. Smallmouth bass can be found throughout the Flambeau, with fish congregating in deep holes and on the downstream side of rocks and deadfalls.
The best way to fish for smallies in a river like the Flambeau is with a canoe or kayak. You can also fish from a boat, but a better bet is wading. Paddle to a promising stretch of water, hop out of the boat and start casting. With your feet on the riverbed, you have much greater control over your casts and you have all the leverage you need to set your hook and fight a fish. And you’ll need that leverage—Flambeau River smallies are brutes!
The second type of habitat that really shines for smallmouth bass fishing is the small, clear lake. The best examples of this habitat are the crystal-clear lakes of Vilas County. These beautiful bodies of water produce smallmouth bass with amazing coloration. On most lakes, smallmouth bass are found near deep weed beds and along break lines. On the largest, deepest lakes, the smallmouth bass action is concentrated closer to shore.
When fishing smallmouth bass in crystal-clear lakes, stealth is of the utmost importance. While you might not see the smallies, they can still see you. Long casts and clear line will help you catch more fish. The clear water also lends itself to natural-looking lures. Use perch-pattern crankbaits, not florescent orange.
This summer, try fishing for smallmouth bass. Wisconsin offers some of the Midwest’s finest smallmouth bass opportunities. After experiencing the rod-bending power of these feisty fish, you’ll be convinced that the smallmouth bass is worthy of some serious respect.