Small mouth bass prefer clean, cool water. Unlike large mouth bass, small mouth bass thrive in water flowing over clean sand and rock. You will not normally find them in weed beds or muddy pools unless food is scarce or they become frightened by storms.
In rivers and streams, if you approach quietly with care, on a bright day you’ll be able to see the fish suspended in mid-stream with their heads pointed into the oncoming current. This is where they thrive, in clean, moving well aerated water. An excellent place to cast is under a low hanging branch near the bank, especially behind a log or other obstruction that creates an eddy pool.
In small lakes small mouth bass can usually be found anywhere there is the slightest sign of water movement. The best place to check first is where creeks or small streams enter the lake. Especially if the water entering the lake is clear and cool, you’ll find them holding at the entrance of these creeks and streams for days. Other good places to check for small mouth bass are anywhere eddies are forming; in narrow channels, around sunken logs and large rocks. In other words, anywhere water is moving, curling or being agitated.
During the summer when temperatures rise small mouth bass typically find a sheltered spot to hide in until late in the afternoon. The best time to fish for small mouth bass on hot summer days is approximately two hours before the sun goes down to just about an hour after sundown. When they come out of their daytime hiding spots, small mouth bass find food by watching the surface of the water against the light background of the sky above. At this time of day these fish won’t attack or jump at their food like large mouth bass do. Instead they will execute a semi-circle maneuver under the food and take it from below without coming out of the water. You can easily recognize this feeding behavior by watching for surface swirls which are the main characteristic you will notice when they are feeding this way.
When a storm approaches or the water gets really rough, these fish become frightened and head for deep water or hide in a muddy place. When this happens they may very well stay hidden for two or three days after the storm has passed and things have calmed down. However when they do come out of hiding they will be ravenous and will hit virtually anything resembling food.