Smallmouth bass are generally smaller than largemouth, but their fighting spirit and acrobatics when hooked more than make up for any deficiency in size. They rarely exceed 5 pounds in New York, and any fish over 3 pounds is quite large. The New York record smallmouth was taken from Lake Erie in 1995 and weighed 8.04lbs. The body of the smallmouth is described as elongate robust, and similar in shape to the largemouth. The mouth of the smallmouth ends below the middle of the eye, while the mouth of the largemouth extends to below the back of the eye or farther. The smallmouth is a greenish bronze to brown in color, and shading to dirty white on the belly. The sides usually have two rows of narrow vertical lines.
The smallmouth bass lives in streams with slow to moderate current and in lakes and ponds where it prefers rocky or gravelly substrate and abundant shelter. The smallmouth will tolerate a wide range of habitats, but generally prefers cooler, clearer water than the largemouth. They are widely distributed throughout New York State and Long Island.
The smallmouth spawns in late spring when water temperatures reach 62 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Nests are constructed in gravelly areas along the shore where the water is 2 to 20 feet deep, with the average being about 3 feet. The males construct the nest similar to the largemouth. The eggs hatch in 7-16 days depending on temperature. The newly hatched fry are jet black and rise from the nest in a dense school that is herded by the male for a short time. Fingerling smallmouth will have orange and black bands across the base of the tail.
Ponds that are larger, deeper, and cooler will provide satisfactory conditions for smallmouth bass. Ponds ½ acre and larger with a minimum depth of ten feet are suitable. If gravel does not occur naturally in your pond, it can be added to provide spawning areas for the smallmouth.
As with all predatory fish, your pond must be well stocked with minnows and crayfishBEFORE smallmouth bass fingerlings are introduced.
We recommend a stocking rate of 100 fingerlings per surface acre. Yellow perch can be successfully stocked with smallmouth bass. After they reach spawning age, the young perch produced will provide an excellent food supply for your smallmouth. It will also add variety to your pond.