The midwest is bronzeback paradise with great smallmouth lakes littered throughout the landscape. There’s no shortage of hot bites throughout the region if you know where to look. That said, there are a few fisheries that really shine when you start talking about true trophy sized fish. These behemoth bronzeback factories tend to be larger bodies of water that support massive structures and huge populations of forage fish. Below are our favorite hotspots for catching trophy size smallies.
Mille Lacs Lake, MN
The bass world’s been in a frenzy since the 2016 Bassmaster AOY Championship on Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake.
Jaws hit the floor when anglers hit the scales with bags of five-pound fish — and had the fall bite been in full swing, the average size would have been closer to six. Minnesota’s Seth Feider definitely put on a clinic, taking first in his own backyard.
With countless boulders, reefs, and sunken islands — and lots and lots of crawfish – Mille Lacs is a true smallmouth factory.
From tubes to topwaters, drop shots to wacky rigs, swimbaits to jerkbaits, it’s hard not to catch goliath brown bass exactly the way YOU like to fish on Minnesota’s Mille Lacs!
> Mille Lacs Maps/Spots (Fishidy)
Sturgeon Bay, WI
Door County, Wisconsin, is know for cherries, wine, and world-class multi-species fishing.
Flats, rock humps, reefs, underwater points — Sturgeon Bay couldn’t have been designed better for big brown bass.
That includes lots of food! The endless buffet of invasive gobies is growing fish to linebacker class faster than ever.
From May through mid-July, there’s a great sight-fishing bite. From mid-summer through fall, slightly deeper humps and rock piles are key. And in fall, fish move to deep underwater points.
But no matter the time of year, Sturgeon Bay is the place to scrimmage with trophy smallmouths.
> Sturgeon Bay Maps/Spots (Fishidy)
Saginaw Bay, MI
Michigan’s Saginaw Bay is another behemoth brown bass factory.
But with so much water to cover, it’s best to do a bit of homework before you launch the boat. High definition digital mapping is your best friend.
Build a route to a series of the outer bay’s reefs, then it’s simply a process of elimination. Also look inshore for rock humps and weeds – there’s big fish there, too.
Six to 10 feet is typically the zone. Find boulders and you’re definitely on the right track to your next trophy bass.
Just keep your eye on the weather. Winds off Lake Huron into the bay can get fierce.
> Saginaw Bay Maps/Spots (Fishidy)
Little and Big Bays de Noc, MI
Michigan’s Little and Big Bays de Noc are sleeper big bass waters.
The 2014 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship really put the Upper Peninsula waters on the map. It took a 4-pound or better average per fish to finish in the money.
And since, the bass fishing’s only improved, with lots of five-pound and bigger fish in the system.
Whether you fish Little of Big Bay de Noc, rock and food equals fish — a menu of crawfish and gobies keeps these fish aggressive and heavy!