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Entries in smallmouth bass (66)


I caught this 5-pound smallmouth on a recent trip with Rick Hart of Rick Hart's TightLines on the Tennessee River below Wheeler Dam. Fish hit on my first cast of a rainy, miserable day. On the frigid day before, I caught a 6-pounder on my second cast! Great trip despite the weather.

You can find out how Rick targets and catches these big smallies in my upcoming book, Kickin' Bass, which should be out in the fall. Until then, check out my other books, including Better Bass Fishing, available at Amazon.


My Best Smallmouth!

I had a tough day of fishing April 5. Didn't catch a 6-pound smallie until my second cast! Biggest ever for me. Hope to boat an even larger one tomorrow.

Previous best was 5-12.

Caught this beast fishing tailwaters below Wheeler Dam on the Tennessee River with Rick Hart of Rick Hart's TightLines.


Kentucky To Try Less Restrictive Size Limits For Tournaments


The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will study the impact of less restrictive regulations on bass size limits during bass tournaments.

The test will allow anglers to weigh in smallmouth and largemouth bass that are 12 inches or longer. Tournament anglers still will  release them after they are weighed.

The three-year test is limited to two tournaments each on Lake Cumberland and Cave Run Lake.

Current rules say anglers at Cave Run Lake must release all largemouth bass between 13 to 16 inches, and all smallmouth shorter than 18 inches. Lake Cumberland has a 15-inch minimum size limit for largemouth and an 18-inch limit for smallmouth bass.

The study will help biologists determine if the changes would affect the overall fishery in the lake.



Health of James River Continues To Improve

The health of the James River, one of Virginia's most important bass fisheries, continues to improve and is significantly better than a decade ago, according to the latest bi-annual assessment from the James River Association (JRA).

Much of that improvement is attributable to new pollution control, according to JRA's Bill Street. "Since 2005, Virginia has invested over $1.3 billion, which has been matched by local and private dollars to control pollution going into the James River and other waters of the state," he said.

"The vast majority of that money has gone to wastewater treatment upgrades and, as a result, we have attained 118 percent of the needed pollution reductions in wastewater going into the James River."

Based on data collected from government agencies, the river's grade this year is 62 percent, a B-, up slightly from 61 percent in 2015. But the fish and wildlife score improved dramatically, from 56 to 66 percent, while habitat declined from 65 to 61 percent.

"Smallmouth bass, oysters, and bald eagles are all faring well in the river," said the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "There were no new statistics for striped bass, which is still at about 60 percent of its population goal, according to the report."

On the negative side, underwater grasses started declining in 2016, following considerable growth in 2015.

"We saw tidal water quality improve since then, so we're not quite sure why underwater grasses have dipped," said JRA's Shawn Ralston. "We do know they are susceptible to sediment loads, so that could be one of the reasons."


Montana's Fort Peck Producing Big Smallies, Including State Record

In the Great Lakes states, smallmouth bass seem to be growing to record sizes by gorging on round gobies, an exotic species. Out West, they seem to be doing much the same thing by feeding on cisco (lake herring), likewise a nonnative species, at Montana's Fort Peck Reservoir.

At least that's the theory proposed by Mike Dominick in late September, after he caught a state record smallie. On a certified scale, it checked in at 7.51-pounds, besting the old mark of 7.4 caught last year by Jacob Fowler at Flathead Lake.

Dominick said that he's consistently caught smallmouths stuffed full of cisco, citing one trip when he caught five fish of more than 6 pounds each and another when he and a companion caught 30 topping 3 pounds each in 1 1/2 hours from the same spot.

"They've got the perfect recipe for growing them, as long as the bait keeps up. I think an 8-pounder will be caught next year," he said, adding that his fish could have been that large had it been caught in the spring, when it likely would be laden with eggs.

And he's surprised that walleye anglers haven't taken a record from the eastern Montana fishery yet. State record is 17.75 pounds caught in 2007 at Tiber Reservoir.

Incredibly, Dominick's trophy, which he released, is just a little more than a pound shy of the state record largemouth, an 8.8-pound specimen caught at Roxon Rapids Reservoir in 2009.

The Montana angler hooked the smallmouth along a submerged rocky ridge with a drop-shot rig on 8-pound test.

"It tried to jump twice, but it was too big," he told the Billings Gazette. "It just stuck its nose out of the water and wallowed around. It was ungodly fat, just an impressive fish."

A serious bass fisherman who drives 9 1/2 hours to fish Fort Peck, he was particularly pleased that his fish tops the current record, caught by casual angler Jacob Fowler from a  Flathead Lake dock, using bait.

"I've been working two years for that fish," Dominick said. "I thought that record was breakable.

"But whether Fish and Game accepts it or not, that's okay. It was the most impressive one I've seen in Montana."