Smallmouth Bass

Rainbow Trout
Micropterus dolmieui

Other Names
Bronzeback, brown bass, black bass, Oswego bass, green trout and redeye

Three dark bars run from the snout, past the gill flap. It has green/brown sides with vertical stripes. The fish can camouflage themselves by changing color according to their environment.

Typical Habitat
Found in manmade or natural lakes, smallmouth prefer clear, mid-depth water. They seldom appear in small ponds or lakes that run less than 25 feet deep. Smallmouth also appear in clean, moderate-running rivers and streams.

Feeding Habits
Smallmouth eat variety of small fish, larval and adult insects, but prefer crayfish.

Age and Growth
Smallmouth can live up to 7 years in the south and up to 18 years in the north.

Sporting Qualities
Like the largemouth bass, these make for great freshwater sportfishing. Smallmouths will take just about any bait presented, and put up a strong fight afterward. Live baits include minnows, night crawlers, shiners and leeches. Streamer flies, crankbaits, rubber worms and spinners also will produce.

Food Quality
Smallmouth bass will not have the grassy taste that occaisionally appears in largemouth bass. Their meat is white, flaky, and has an excellent flavor.

World Record
10 lbs. 14 ounces, Dale Hollow, Tennessee

Preferred Temps
70 to 89

Smallmouth bass fishing in Hawaii – Arlen Meline

Smallmouth bass were introduced to Oahu as far back as circa 1928 in Lake Wilson, a reservoir used for irrigation.  They have spread through many of the streams here, either when water was high enough for them to get past natural barriers or by bucket biology.  They have worked their way up to the uppermost reaches of some streams where the waters are typically cooler, although not cold enough for trout.  While those of us with Mainland smallmouth bass experience are delighted that they inhabit many streams, the predatory nature of the smallies make them one of the most aggressive invasive species here on Oahu.  There is no closed season on smallies.  The minimum keeper size is 9 inches.  The limit is 10 total (large and smallmouth) per day in other waters, however fishing in Lake Wilson is catch and release only.

For those of us who enjoy the rigors of mountain biking and hiking in to our favorite smallmouth streams, getting there requires being in good physical condition.  The hike through the Ko’olau Mountains is stunningly beautiful and it’s terrain that most Hawaiians will never see or enjoy.  Once on the stream, you find that the streams are very similar to some of the fine, smaller smallmouth streams of Eastern United States such as in Virginia.  Boulders of all sizes provide excellent habitat, and the remoteness make it rather unlikely that other fishers have visited the streams recently.  Wet wading, combat style is the way to go.  Boots with felt and studded soles are essential.  A walking stick comes in very handy.

Due to the fact that if you broke a rod, you can’t go back to your vehicle for a back-up, we sometimes carry two rods just in case.  Some of us are strictly fly fishers while others are spin fishers, and some are both.  I usually bring a four piece four weight or a seven piece five weight fly rod. That coupled with a three piece ultra light or four piece light weight spinning rod with four or six pound test line works fine.  There have been situations where I’ve used both.  When the vegetation was too thick or the pools too deep for the fly rod, the spinning rod comes in handy.

The smallies are not typically interested in topwater flies or lures.  For flies, a size 8 or 10 bead head, wooly bugger in white, black, olive or rust works well with a 7.5 or 9 foot leader.  A red San Juan worm can also be deadly.  For spin fishing, the favorite lures are Jerry’s flies, particularly those that have good spinner blade action at all retrieval speeds.  Small Kastmasters and Rapalas also work, but the spinners work best.

The streams are typically very clear with a hard gravel or boulder strewn bottom.  The streams in the Ko’olau Mountains have very steep banks, covered with thick vegetation.  If it begins to rain hard or if the stream starts to become even slightly muddy, you want to get out of the stream as flash floods can occur without much notice if there happens to be a downpour near the headwaters.  Typically the stream depth rises quickly, but once the rain ceases, the stream level also drops fairly soon afterwards.

To see examples of the fish we have caught, check out our picture albums on our website.