Fish Type: Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) are a popular sportfish found in many freshwater bodies across Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. They are highly sought after by anglers for their aggressive nature, hard fighting ability, and their willingness to strike a variety of lures and baits.
Here are some key points about smallmouth bass in Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan:
Eating Insight: smallmouth meat has firm texture, white meat, and cleaner taste than the largemouth. Smaller under 16 inches for better tasting. Studies show all fish in the area have
Distribution: Smallmouth bass are native to the Great Lakes region and can be found in numerous lakes, rivers, and streams throughout Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. They thrive in clear, cool waters with rocky or gravelly bottoms, which provide ideal habitat for spawning, feeding, and cover.
Habitat: Smallmouth bass prefer clear, well-oxygenated waters and are often associated with rocky shorelines, submerged rock piles, fallen trees, and weed beds. They are adaptable and can tolerate a range of water conditions but generally prefer cooler temperatures compared to their close relative, the largemouth bass.
Life Cycle: Smallmouth bass typically spawn in late spring or early summer when water temperatures reach around 60-65°F (15-18°C). During the spawning season, male bass create nests on gravelly or sandy bottoms in shallow water. The males guard the nest and eggs until they hatch, which usually takes a week or two. Smallmouth bass can live up to 10-20 years, depending on the conditions and available food sources.
Feeding Habits: Smallmouth bass are opportunistic feeders and have a varied diet. They primarily feed on crayfish, minnows, small fish, insects, and other aquatic invertebrates. They are known to be aggressive predators and will often strike lures that resemble their natural prey, such as crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, and soft plastic baits.
Fishing Tips: When targeting smallmouth bass in Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, it’s important to focus on areas with suitable habitat, such as rocky points, drop-offs, and submerged structures. Early morning and late evening are often the best times to fish, particularly during warmer months. Some popular techniques include casting or trolling lures near cover, using live bait presentations, or fly fishing with streamers and nymphs.
Conservation: It’s crucial to be aware of local fishing regulations and size limits, as they can vary between different bodies of water. Practicing catch-and-release and handling fish with care helps preserve the population of smallmouth bass and ensures their sustainability for future generations.
Health : Local waters have PCBs, dioxin, mercury, PFOS, and other chemicals that can be found in fish and stay in our environment for a very long time.
Be aware of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – The Eat Safe Fish Guide (ESF Guide)
Wisconsin has the a health guide for eating fish in Wisconsin – Choose Wisely Contaminate Advisories for Wisconsin