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Smallmouth Bass

By: Nick and FishingwithNat Updated: May 1, 2022

Scientific Name: Micropterus dolomieu
Also Known As: Brown bass, bronze bass, smallie, SMB

Where Smallmouth Bass Live

Smallmouth bass can be found in lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks, and reservoirs throughout North America. Alaska is the only state that doesn’t have a native bass species.

Within a body of water smallmouth bass will move throughout the year. Depending on the season, weather conditions, and water clarity they can be found at just about any depth. We have a helpful guide to help you find bass.

Life Span of Smallmouth Bass

In the wild smallmouth bass can live 6 – 14 years. These older smallmouth can be harder to catch as they have gotten smarter over time and have learned how to distinguish between natural prey and artificial lures.

The Importance of Smallmouth Bass

Fishing is one of the most popular sport for participation. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 43 percent of freshwater anglers fish for bass. With smallmouth being one of the most popular types of bass they help bring in a good chunk of the $60 billion the bass industry generates each year.

How to Identify a Smallmouth Bass


Smallmouth bass have dark green and brown sides with brown veritcal bands.

Physical Features

The upper jaw of a smallmouth’s mouth only extends to the midpoint of their eyes, it doesn’t extend past like largemouths. The notch in their dorsal fin is not as profound as a largemouth’s.

Adult Size & Weight

The average size adult smallmouth that you will commonly catch is 8-16 inches long and weight 1-3 pounds. They can get larger though, the world record is 11 lbs 15 oz and 27.2 inches long. Although they are smaller than largemouth they pack a lot more fight in a smaller package so they can be a lot of fun fighting in.

Estimating Smallmouth Weight Based on Length

Smallmouth Bass LengthEstimated Weight
12 in.81 lb
13 in1.13 lb
14 in1.45 lb
15 in1.56 lb
16 in2.25 lb
17 in2.65 lb
18 in3.01 lb
19 in3.63 lb
20 in4.3 lb
21 in5.36 lb
22 in6.22 lb
23 in7.14 lb
24 in8.21 lb
25 in9.35 lb
26 in10.60 lb
27 in11.8 lb
28 in12.42 lb

View World & State Smallmouth Records

Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Smallmouth bass are fairly easy to catch. They are the most aggressive bass and will often strike even if they aren’t hungry. The biggest challenge is knowing where to fish in order to get your bait in front of them.

The best baits for catching smallmouth are crawfish, minnows, and artificial lures.

Smallmouth Bass being held out of water

Frequently Asked Questions About Smallmouth Bass

Are smallmouth bass safe to eat?

Smallmouth bass are safe to eat and it can be very satisfying eating what you caught yourself. However, smallmouth bass can contain high levels of mercury, or other toxins depending on the levels of pollution in its environment.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises people to check for fish advisories for the particular body of water.

Do smallmouth bass taste good?

Depending on how you prepare a smallmouth they can taste very good. They range from a mild to heavy fishy taste. They are generally not rated as high as other fish such as cod, trout, or salmon.

Can smallmouth bass hurt you?

Smallmouth bass are not dangerous to handle. They have small teeth that can rough up or cut your skin but nothing that would take more than a day or two to heal.