The Smallmouth bass, or Micropterus Dolomieu, is one of the most popular and prevalent sport fish in the United States. Smallmouth bass are brown fish with dark brown vertical stripes. They have red eyes and earn the name smallmouth because their jaw stops at the middle of the eye. Largemouth bass, on the other hand, have a longer jaw that runs past the eye, one long horizontal stripe, and are generally larger. Male smallmouth bass are smaller than females generally averaging about 2 pounds. Females can range from 3 to 6 pounds as adults.
The males will head to spawning areas when the water temperature reaches about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Here the male fish will build several nest sites. The nests are generally between 1 and 10 feet deep and are in cover.
When the females emerge from deeper waters to spawn the male will lead them to the nest. Thousands of eggs are laid by the female bass. The fish that emerge from the eggs are known as frye until they reach their juvenile size. It can take a smallmouth bass anywhere from 1 to 5 years to reach its full adult size. This timeframe may be largely dependent on the availability of food.
As the fish go from frye to adult, their diet will change. The frye start out eating mainly zooplankton. As they age they will begin eating insects, crayfish, and finally other fish. They will prey on other smaller bass, but this is not a large part of their diet.
Smallmouth bass can be found in a variety of water habitats. Large clear lakes, rivers, and streams are all prime habitat for the species. The best lakes for finding them will be at least 32 feet deep, clear, and have plenty of vegetation. They prefer areas with rocky or gravel bottoms. Their preferred water temperature ranges from 60-70 degrees. As the water gets colder towards fall and winter, the fish will head for deeper waters. They can tolerate moderate currents well, though in very high current areas they do not survive as well and are often found up against sunken logs or other objects which dissipate the current. Smallmouth bass can be found in every state in the U.S. except for Louisana and Florida.
The Smallmouth bass is one of the most adaptable species of sport fish and as such are found throughout the country. Though their species does better under specific conditions, they are also able to adapt to environmental changes well. Their aggressive nature makes them great fish to catch as they will often put up a good fight. Variety in diet makes them easy to target with many different live and artificial baits.
The Michigan season for possession of smallmouth bass runs from May 23rd to December 31st which gives anglers ample time to target them in all but the harshest winter and spawning seasons. Catch and release of Smallmouth Bass is permitted throughout the year. The daily possession limit of bass is 5 combined large and smallmouth, providing they are all over 14 inches in length.