have been hearing rumors about large smallmouth bass in mountain reservoirs and I had the opportunity to check it out for myself and was quite pleased with what I found cruising in one mountain reservoir. A good friend of mine went out in the fall a few years ago and was surprised to find that the majority of his catch consisted of smallmouth bass in this particular mountain reservoir that was mainly known for it's trout.
As a promise to my friend I will not disclose the location of this mountain reservoir smallie spot but I will say that there is a great opportunity to catch smallmouth bass in mountain reservoirs. There are smallmouth in reservoirs like Elk Head Reservoir, Horsetooth Reservoir and many others they were also stocked in 11 Mile Reservoir years ago and there are reports of them being caught and seen cruising under the ice while out ice fishing. This will be a future story in the making I hope, I have not been out targeting them specifically at 11 Mile yet...
They can be caught using baits such as tube jigs,"gitizits" small 3 inch BPS stick o's and curl tail grubs and I saw some being caught on a fly rod and heard they hit trout lures pretty good also. I always say use what you have confidence in and use your favorite colors for smallmouth as with all fish species and that will keep your attitude positive and usually helps you improve your catch ratio. If you have several favorites switch it up and see which one produces more they may be keying in on one more than the other.
I brought a couple of rods on this bank fishing trip and found that the lighter line made a difference in the catch ratio they were focused on the grub being dragged slow along the bottom and they picked it up and swam off with it. The bite can feel like a "tick" in your line and sometimes it feels like your rod is stretching like a rubber band they are swimming off with it. "set the hook" I really like the Wright & McGill spinning rod in the micro guide series in the shakeyhead / senko series 7' 2'' fast action. It is very sensitive and I use it for a lot of different fishing situations. The bait caster I bring along is my BPS 7' medium action worm rod it is an older version but one of my favorites. This allows me to use a heavier line for different baits and still make a long cast.
Head to the mountains and get out of the heat and try for some of those mountain smallmouth bass. You just might find a new favorite species to target when the trout your looking for are not cooperating. Their aggressive nature will keep you going back. Please practice catch and release.
Best of Luck,
Sam Heckman / Pro Staff