Here in the great north bass fishing takes a momentary pause during the brisk months of winter but once the ice comes off the boats go on. During the ice-out period smallmouth go on the munch which puts a spotlight on these brown goliaths.
With water temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s smallmouth tend to still be lethargic but are usually schooled up in the shallower sections of the lake. The schooling tendencies can be to your advantage if you’re familiar with power fishing. During this period throwing a shallow jerkbait like a Rapala Shadow Rap or Berkley Cutter over 3-10ft flats in a quick twitching retrieve utlizing short pauses.
If you’re feeling bold we’ve had strong success on buzzbaits during the colder water periods present in early spring running major flats on the end of primary points. The buzzbait is best paired with a spinnerbait, we prefer a half-once in chartreuse/white and double willows to quickly cover water. When throwing the wirebaits you are primarily fancasting over sandy flats with isolated grass clumps in order to maximize opportunities.
Some days though the shallow bite just isn’t the deal and we need to move deeper. Heading to the deeper sections off of shelves and primary points wielding a 1/4 or 3/8oz VMC Neon Moon Eye jig tipped with either a 3” Berkley Pro Grub or a 5” Zoom Super Fluke. The key to vertical jigging smallmouth is being familiar with your electronics, this early season can be a great learning opportunity to catapult the rest of your season.
Smallmouth can be a difficult fish to predict during warmer months but during these near frigid times these bronze beauties tend to stack up in large schools making them an excellent target for bass anglers willing to brave the cold.