Dedicated Smallmouth Bass anglers that fish the Great Lakes like Lake Erie, the St. Lawrence system and Lake Simcoe know that even in extremely cold water temperatures and late, late fall, you can have some amazing smallmouth bass action.
This is true since smallmouths move shallow in early fall and then migrate to slightly deeper water as water temps really drop. In many cases when they move off the shorelines they school up together and it’s common to find “mother-loads” of smallies that are eager to feed either right on the bottom, or suspended in the water column.
Depending on the waters, you may need to fish soft-plastic along the bottom, vertical jig in the water column with the same type of spoons used for ice fishing, or work crankbaits anywhere from 8-30+ feet down. This is where it pays off to experiment.
On a recent trip, Gabor Horvat had all his success on fishing crankbaits off shorline and working them back to the boat. In the fall don’t be disappointed if you don’t hook up bass right away. As the surface water warms up from the sun some of the best fishing is 10am-2pm.