Smallmouth Bass

Josh's Notes

2016 Season Notes

2016 was another great smallmouth season. I did not pick up as many 17"+ smallmouth this year but I did cut my season in half by focusing on pike starting about the middle of August. A different mix of flies worked this season but used the same techniques. The crayfish hop and pop and drop both continue to produce very well. The Kishwaukee River continues to be my favorite place to chase down smallmouth. With a little love, I believe the Kishwaukee River could be a national destination for fly fishing for smallmouth. They just need to implement some slot limits to protect the best of breed. I am intrigued by the Rock River and plan to spend a lot more time on the Rock next season. I am willing to bet the Rock is a much better smallmouth fishery than I give it credit.

Article of interest:

2015 Season Notes

First let me say I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of smallmouth I was catching throughout the North and South Branch of the Kishwuakee River. In my opinion, 17”+ smallmouth are becoming more common. I wrote an article with my Top 5 Smallmouth flies that can be found here. I am super excited for next season to try the deer hair diver early on in the season to see how it performs. As far as techniques, standard swinging of a streamer worked well, the crayfish hop always produces, but this year I started focusing on mending to tick bottom. Combining the Crayfish Hop with Mending on the Pop was by far the most deadly combination. Mending on the Pop can be used with top water divers and poppers to prevent drag on the fly from the current.

A couple articles of interest:

2014 Season Notes

My favorite place to chase smallmouth bass is the North Branch of the Kishwaukee River. My most productive pattern has been the Frosty Minnow. This past season, the Black/White was the best color combination. Towards the end of last season, I was having great success with the TeQueely. The Kishwaukee River produces fourteen and fifteen inch smallmouth consistently with the average size around twelve inches. Twenty inch smallmouth can be found on rare occasions.


The smallmouth bass is commonly referred to as the Bronzeback because of its golden bronze color. Smallmouth can range in color to dark almost black to golden depending on their habitat. Smallmouth in the Midwest can grow to be three to six pounds but commonly found in the one to two pound range. It takes smallmouth bass upwards of eight years to grow to be fifteen inches an length and uncommonly can be found in the twenty plus inch range. Many anglers say the smallmouth are opportunistic and will feed on just about anything. While I find this to be some what true, there are times when your presentation must be perfect to get a strike.


The smallmouth bass likes cooler water than its big brother the largemouth bass. Smallmouth are often found in clear, clean creeks, streams and rivers. Although they can tolerate some pollution they are often an indicator of the quality of the water. Look for structure such as down trees, stumps, and rocks to locate smallmouth bass. In lower light conditions such as early morning and late evening smallmouth bass will move up into the riffles to feed. The smallmouth's diet consists of crayfish, smaller fish, and insects.