The two foods small mouth bass love above and beyond all others are live minnows and crayfish. They will on occasion eat larger fish and other organic manner. But by and far their preferred food is live minnows and crayfish.
Of course when a small mouth bass is especially hungry, it will eat anything in the vicinity resembling food. In situations where it’s preferred food is scarce, small moth bass have eaten crickets, moths, grasshoppers and other insects. However, this fish is usually a very picky eater and prefers chasing and eating live minnows and crayfish.
It has also been said that small mouth bass eat a lot of frogs as well. This is more than likely not true. Frogs live in marshy places or near weed beds. Typically there is little or no current flowing and the bottom is covered with several inches of slime and mud littered with dead branches and sunken logs. The water in these types of places is stagnant, dirty, and warm. Small mouth bass prefer cool, clear and flowing water. However these places make excellent large mouth bass habitat who lie in the mud close to shore and eat large amounts of frogs.
Crayfish, which make up a large part of the small mouth bass diet, unfortunately doesn’t make good bait. For whatever reason, it is very difficult to catch these fish using hooked crayfish as bait. It doesn’t seem to matter how the crayfish bait is presented, the fish refuse to accept it.
As far as artificial lures go, small mouth bass have been taken on small spoons, small minnow lures and small top water crank bait. Retrieve spoon lures at a moderate to fast rate. Too slow a retrieve will allow the fish to examine the lure too closely and will not be effective.
Using live minnows is very effective. However best results using live minnows are achieved by checking the bait often and making sure the minnow is swimming. Dead minnows are a big turn off to small mouth bass. Keep a fresh minnow on your hook and you’ll have your kreel filled in no time.