That’s right. Micropterus dolomieu is the scientific classification name for the Smallmouth Bass. But we can still use Smallmouth, Bronzeback, Brown Bass, Brownie, Smallie, Bronze Bass and or Bareback Bass. I thought the first “official” article for this new adventure should also start at the beginning. Hopefully this entry will shine some light on our favorite species and maybe even educate us on some things we did not know about Smallies.
Since the caveman, we have always based our status as an angler/hunter on the size of the food we kill. In the case of fly fishing for Smallmouth, we should establish the high-water mark, so we know what to shoot for:
“On July 9, 1955, David Lee Hayes, his wife, Ruth, and their 6-year-old son were spending the day on Dale Hollow Lake on the Tennessee-Kentucky border. The family had been coming to the lake from their Leitchfield, Ky., home for about three years and Hayes had developed quite a reputation for his ability to catch smallmouth bass and walleye from its deep, clear waters. He was so good in fact that several local fishing guides followed him on occasion, hoping to learn his secrets.
Things were slow that day, however. At about 10 a.m., Hayes was trolling his favorite diving plug — a 600 series pearl Bomber — with little to show for his efforts. That's when he decided to swing into a little cut between Illwill Creek and Phillips Bottom, just north of Trooper Island in Kentucky waters.
"There were a couple of weed beds through there, and if you lined it up just right you could bring your plug right between them and keep it bumping the bottom," Hayes said in a 2005 interview.
He had about 300 feet of line out when the big fish hit. At first, he thought he was snagged. Then he felt the surge of a powerful fish.
It took several minutes with his Tru-Temper steel rod, Penn Peer 209 reel and 20-pound-test line to bring the bass boatside, but Hayes eventually put a net under the giant.
‘I had no idea it was a world record," he said.
When he got the fish back to Cedar Hill Resort where he kept the family cruiser, the bass weighed an ounce less than 12 pounds and measured 27 inches in length and 21 2/3 inches in girth. Naturally, it was the biggest smallmouth anyone had ever seen’.” - Bassmaster- August 21, 2008, Ken Duke - Author
Now, obviously this fish was caught on standard gear and not on the fly, but at least we now know the goal. Below are just a few more nuggets of information about the Bronze Backs that you may not have known:
-Males are generally smaller than females
-The coloration can depend on the age, water quality, habitat, diet, and spawning cycle.
-The protruding jaw never extends past the eyes
-The eyes can be red or brown
-They have two dorsal fins which are separated by a shallow interdorsal notch. The front dorsal has 9-11 spiney rays and the back dorsal has 13-15 soft rays.
-They are found in clearer water than largemouth bass
-The female can lay up to 21,000 eggs, which are guarded by the male in the nest.
-When the water gets below 60 degrees, the smallmouth move to deeper waters and go into a semi-hibernation mode moving slowly and eating just enough to make it to the Spring.
-They begin spawning once the water temperature increases to 59-63 degrees.
-There are two recognized species of smallmouth bass, the northers smallmouth bass (M.dolomieui dolomieui) and the Neosho smallmouth bass (M. dolomieui velox). – Wikipedia
In the United States, smallmouth bass were first introduced outside of their native range with the construction of the Erie Canal in 1825, extending the fish's range into central New York state. During the mid-to-late 19th century, smallmouth were transplanted via the nation's rail system to lakes and rivers throughout the northern and western United States, as far as California. Shippers found that smallmouth bass were a hardy species that could be transported in buckets or barrels by rail, sometimes using the spigots from the railroad water tanks to aerate the fingerlings. They were introduced east of the Appalachians just before the Civil War, and afterwards transplanted to the states of New England.
With increased industrialization and land use changes, many of the nation's eastern trout rivers were polluted or experienced elevated water temperatures, reducing the range of native brook trout. Smallmouth bass were often introduced to northern rivers with increased water temperatures and slowly became a popular gamefish with many anglers. Equally adaptable to large, cool-water impoundments and reservoirs, the smallmouth also spread far beyond its original native range. Later, smallmouth populations also began to decline after years of damage caused by overdevelopment and pollution, as well as a loss of river habitat caused by damming many formerly wild rivers to form lakes or reservoirs. In recent years, a renewed emphasis on preserving water quality and riparian habitat in the nation's rivers and lakes, together with stricter management practices, eventually benefited smallmouth populations and has caused a resurgence in their popularity with anglers. - Wikipedia
Ok, yes, you all could have just as easily found this for yourself on the internet; but would you have taken the time. I believe it’s important to understand and educate yourself in anything that gives you passion and joy. As I’ve stated, this is the first step in chronicling my journey to become a smallmouth guru and this article is the first step. If you already knew all these things, then CONGRATULATIONS! If you did learn something, then let’s keep this process going together.