Why Travel for Smallmouth Bass?

An angler on Lake Michigan with a big smallmouth bass

Catch many like this on the flats of Lake Michigan.

Great Fishing!

This probably seems like a no-brainer. But it’s true. A lot of places beyond your home waters offer truly high quality angling, with plenty of big fish and/or high numbers of smallmouth. Some may say they don’t care about fish sizes, but it’s the rare fella who doesn’t get awfully excited when they land half a dozen power-packed smallies over 18 inches in a single day. And there are certainly places where that’s common (and on topwaters, no less).


Tim fly fishing off a rocky point in a big river with no-one else in sight

A fantastic setting and plenty of smallies. Where are the crowds?

Uncrowded Fishing !

Compared to so many trendy trout and saltwater destinations, plenty of excellent smallmouth waters are downright devoid of anglers. Miles of river or lake shores with just you and the smallies. There’s no hurrying to get to the best spots, no one else crowding you or disturbing the fish– truly quiet, stress-free fishing, with the only other fishers being just eagles, otters and ospreys.

Anglers fly fishing in front of tall limestone bluffs and forest

One of many beautiful rivers in Northern Michigan

Beautiful Waters !

Some guys may not mind doing all their fishing in a housing development pond or a ditched urban river. But I really appreciate more scenic settings. I’m happy to report that there are countless smallmouth rivers, creeks and lakes across North America that are in beautiful settings, some with absolute spectacular beauty.

Exotic Destinations !

Soaring bluffs along the Devil's River in Texas

The Devil’s River in West Texas

Like beauty, exotic may be in the eye of the beholder, but I think there are dozens of smallmouth fishing destinations that are definitely exotic. Clear-flowing jungle streams in the mountains of Oahu, Hawaii! The wild Devils River in the remote canyon country of west Texas! The crystalline, rock-strewn Mattawamkeag River in the forests of northern Maine! Vast, forest-fringed and island-studded Rainy Lake in Ontario, Canada! The beautiful high desert rivers in the ranch country of South Africa! These and many more places where smallmouth swim are in amazing settings and have unique charms that add a great deal to any trip.

A river kayak angler in front of limestone bluffs

The season starts earlier in the Ozarks.

Longer Fishing Periods !

Our fishing seasons almost always seem too short, especially in the north. But there’s no need to put the rods away in October if you travel. It’s 80 degrees on those Hawaii streams in winter. It’s also pretty nice on northern California smallmouth rivers during the colder months. Even in mid-South states like Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky, spring fishing starts a lot earlier than farther north. When those areas get too hot for comfortable fishing in mid-summer, you can go to northern waters in Minnesota, Maine and Ontario for cooler weather and prime fishing.

Two anglers in a boat on on a windy lake with rough waves

Using the wind and waves to cover water and animate the fly

Improve Your Skills !

You may know how to catch fish on your local waters, but what about in another part of the country where the waters are different than at home? I really enjoy learning new techniques that are popular somewhere else. This improves my fishing prowess, gives me new ideas, keeps the sport exciting and I don’t fall into a rut.


Tim and Lyn at the top of Mount Katahdin

Mount Katahdin on the Appalachian Trail

Other Outdoor Activities !

By traveling for smallmouth fishing, I also get to try other enjoyable outdoor activities. In northern Maine, I climbed Mount Katahdin on the Appalachian Trail. I boogie-boarded in the Hawaii surf … hiked to dramatic waterfalls in Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains … camped on wilderness islands in Ontario lakes. So many other great things to do besides the fishing, you’ll want to add extra time to do it all.

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