As  amateur smallmouth bass fishermen, we are always trying to find the perfect place to catch our prized smallmouth bass. The top 5 states for smallmouth bass fishing are Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Kentucky. We are going to help you plan one of your next big fishing trips by giving you a few good locations in each state, along with some bait that can be used while you are there smallmouth bass fishing.

#1: Michigan

Michigan is the top location for smallmouth bass fishing. What gives Michigan its edge on being a great fishing location is the abundance of water. Surrounded by all the Great Lakes, there are no shortages of spots that would make great places for smallmouth bass fishing.

Grand Traverse Bay:

Located in northern Michigan, Grand Traverse Bay is the large bay that contains many other smaller bays, such as Suttons Bay and Northport Bay, that are also good for smallmouth bass fishing. When fishing here it would be wise to use a spinnerbait or a tube. One of the best things about fishing in Grand Traverse Bay is the clear water. There are points along the bay where you are can see the fish move below, this makes it easy fishing for you.   There are also smallmouth fishing guides and outfitters that will help find the best of spots.

Burt and Mullet Lake:

Also located in Northern Michigan, are Burt Lake and Mullet Lake.  These two are connected together by the Indian River. Mullet Lake is known for its higher number of smallmouth bass while Burt Lake is known for the larger sized smallmouth bass it contains. It depends on what you are looking for in your fishing experience if you want to go for the trophy bass or if you want to just keep your pole active with fish at the end. Either way both lakes are fun fishing holes to catch some nice smallmouth bass.

Alpena, Michigan:

Home to many smaller lakes, Alpena is right on Lake Huron. This town gives smallmouth bass fishermen another great place to fish. Some of the inland lakes housed around this area are Hubbard, Grand, and Long Lake. With Alpena being a great small town, many local smallmouth fishing guides and outfitters will help you gain the inside knowledge of the smallmouth population on their portion of Lake Huron.

Charity Island:

Located in Saginaw Bay just off the coast of Au Gres is Charity Island, another good location for smallmouth bass fishing. When fishing here, we suggest using Spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps  to bring you the most success in catching your prized fish. Most of the east side of Michigan is known for its great fishing. Let that be for walleye or smallmouth the whole Saginaw Bay region is a good fishing location for you.. Smallmouth love the rocked walls  of Saginaw Bay so it is home to some of the biggest and most highly populated smallmouth.

Lake Erie:

The second smallest of the Great Lakes often gets overlooked because of the big walleye fishing industry. Lake Erie is one of the best lakes when it comes to catching smallmouth. The twin islands in the middle of the lake are home to some of the biggest smallmouths in the world. Local outfitters will give you the special smallmouth fishing guides and tips to catch the best smallmouth Lake Erie has to offer.

#2; Minnesota

Unlike Michigan, Minnesota only borders one of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior. Smallmouth bass fishermen should not have any problem finding a good place to fish because the state has more the 10,000 lakes along with the Mississippi River. Smallmouth bass love rivers and small lakes that have steep drop-offs or ridges. Minnesota is perfect for both of those so taking a smallmouth fishing trip to Minnesota would be a great place for the avid fisherman.

Alexandria Chain of Lakes:

Near Alexandria lies a chain of lakes including Lake Carlos, Carling, Geneva, Le Homme Dieu, and Victoria. When fishing in one of these eleven lakes, use a soft plastic bait fish with a lead- head jig to bring you the best of luck in catching the smallmouth bass you are fishing for.

Lake Minnetonka:

Lake Minnetonka is located 15 miles west-southwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Which is also home to one of the best largemouth and smallmouth fishing in the greater United States. With abundant coverage of trees and grasses, it gives smallmouths good opportunities to hide and attack prey. Since smallmouths love to attack their prey, smallmouth outfitter and guides will set you up with everything you need to know.

Mississippi River:

Most people think smallmouth bass love to stay in lakes, but any smallmouth guide will tell you that the bass love rivers. This makes Minnesota’s access to the Mississippi River one of the best. Smallmouth love continuous current and they love places to hide so they can wait for prey to come to them before they attack. These features among many others is what makes the Mississippi River one of the best places for smallmouth.

#3: Wisconsin

Wisconsin being similar to both Michigan and Minnesota, makes the state a strong candidate for one of the top smallmouth bass states in all of the United States. Even though Wisconsin doesn’t have the amount of lakes that Michigan has, the rivers make up for it. Wisconsin is a good fishing state for any fish. The lakes and rivers below are some of the best of what Wisconsin has to offer for smallmouth bass fishing.

Pelican Lake:

Pelican Lake is one of the most common places for people to fish in Wisconsin. It doesn’t matter what kind of fish it is, the Pelican probably has it. During the spring and summer is when Pelican Lake is normally the hottest for smallmouth.   The fish are normally active around  fallen trees where they hide out and stalk their prey so as long as you talk to the local smallmouth bass fishing outfitters you shouldn’t have a hard time finding the fish on the lake.

St. Croix River:

Now the St. Croix River isn’t your typical fly fishing river, because it is big enough for a small boat. Some of the local smallmouth bass outfitters will use canoes to drift down the river and  cast spinnerbaits. The St. Croix is a good river to find smallies in because of the never-ending current. The current makes it easier to float and cast your lure to look like a crawfish that would be swimming on the bottom of the river.

Wisconsin River:

Smallmouth guides love the Wisconsin River because of the steep drop-offs. Smallies love steep drop-offs so they can strike their prey quickly and easily without being detected. With the current always moving it is sometimes very easy to get a lure or two snagged on something. Most smallmouth bass outfitters will tell you to use big spinnerbaits so it is harder to get them stuck on land areas like fallen trees or seagrass.

#4: Tennessee

Being known for the many rivers that stretch through all the mountains, Tennessee is home to some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the lower midwest; especially the Dale Hollow Reservoir which has been preserved to increase the smallmouth bass population.

Pickwick Lake:

Lake Pickwick is home to many professional bass anglers. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass run deep inside the lake, which can make it easy for us fisherman to get hooked very easily. What sets Pickwick apart from the rest of the lakes in Tennessee is that once the water gets colder, around 40-50 degrees, the smallmouth bass move to the top of the gravel bars. This can make fun fishing for all ages when there are many good fitting smallies there to be had. Now if you have a chance to get there it is best that you check with a local smallmouth bass fishing outfitter to tell if the bass are on the gravel bars yet. Or even better set up a trip with a local smallmouth bass fishing guide and have them teach you a thing or two when it comes to catching smallies on Lake Pickwick.

Dale Hollow Reservoir:

While greater Tennessee is known for the rivers containing smallmouth bass, most people overlook one of the biggest smallmouth fisheries in the state. The Dale Hollow Reservoir holds the state record for the biggest smallmouth taken in the state. The reservoir is filled with all sorts of irregular features like rocks and logs and sand beds. Since the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has stepped into creating more and more smallmouth bass, the population of the past has been rising. If you are able to come to Dale Hollow Reservoir not only will you be treated to some great fishing but you   will also walk away with a whole lifetime supply of smallmouth bass.

Cherokee Lake:

The die-off of the smallmouth population in Cherokee Lake a few years ago has made the DNR of Tennessee start to preserve the lake’s smallmouth population.  Many smallmouth bass fishing outfitters and guides have said that the smallmouth bass populations are back and on the rise because of the preservation. Finding smallmouth bass can be difficult, just like in any lake, but as long as you talk to the smallmouth bass fishing guides and outfitters they will be able to help with your search. Just remember smallies love to hide in trees or around rocks to strike prey like crawfish, for example.

#5: Kentucky

Similar to Tennessee, Kentucky is known for many deep and long rivers that are home to some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the United States. Through rivers like the Cumberland and Gasper, finding a good amount of smallmouth is not hard in the state. While fishing, you won’t be surprised if you hook a five pound smallmouth bass in these waters.

Cumberland River:

The great thing about the Cumberland River is that it stretches for 134.6 miles and is full of smallmouth bass. The best fishing location on the Cumberland River is the northern part, that is where you can find your highly dense population of smallies. However, some parts of the northern part are hard to get to which makes having a truck or a four-wheel drive vehicle  come in handy. The population of smallies in the river brings in a lot of passionate fishermen from other parts of the United State. Before you go out to catch them on the Cumberland don’t forget to stop at a local smallmouth fishing outfitter to get the latest updates on what to use to catch the bass.

Elkhorn Creek:

Being one of the most well-known smallmouth bass fishing creeks in the state of Kentucky is hard on any river or creek. The Elkhorn Creek stands up to all the fame it has been given over the years. Elkhorn has been known for the quality of fish anglers take from it every year. The only downside to the creek is the smallmouth bass population differentiates through the years. For example, when it is a high water year the smallmouth bass population is normally down and  during a dry year or a drought year the smallmouth bass population goes up.  In order to get the best fishing on Elkhorn Creek, you will need to put in a call to a local smallmouth bass fishing outfitter to find out if it is a drought year or a high water year. Either way, the fishing is good but be aware the bass population is better in the drought years.

Gasper River:

Many people know the Gasper River as a beautiful place to go and view sites but not many know that it is one of the best fisheries for smallmouth bass. Just like the Cumberland River, the upper half of the Gasper River contains the most smallmouth bass. The thing that sets the Gasper apart from other rivers in Kentucky is the size of the fish that fishermen have caught. It is reported that some fisherman have caught over 18-inch bass in the lake. Before going out to catch the state record smallmouth bass, you should go to the local smallmouth outfitter to get the bait and tackle you need to have a successful day on the river.

We all here at “The Outdoor Trip” hope you have a safe and amazing smallmouth bass fishing season wherever you decide to fish. Make sure to get your proper license and safety gear at the local smallmouth fishing outfitter nearest the place you plan on going. We hope we can help schedule your next fishing trip to one of the great places we’ve featured above.