We’ve filmed on Lake Vermilion several times in the past, primarily for walleye and muskies, but today we’re on a little bit of a different mission. We’re actually hunting one of our favorite fish species and that’s smallmouth bass, although we could get a few largemouths mixed in there, too. But what we’re going to share with you is some early season strategies for finding bass on large lakes like this during the springtime months when water temperatures are on the rise and fish are pushing up into the shallows to begin that spawning ritual.

There’s a lot of water to cover on large bodies of water like this, but if you know what to look for and how to isolate these elements with your electronics, you can find the fish a lot more quickly.

This number one tool we’re going to use to find fish quickly in this scenario is our HD map, more specifically, the Depth Highlight feature available on Humminbird units.

Setting your “Depth Highlight” to 6ft with a “Depth Highlight Range” of 2ft will result in the 4-8ft contour areas being shaded in green. Shallow Water Highlight is another feature will do exactly what the name implies: highlight the selected shallow water range, this time in bright red. This can be a great tool for not only isolating shallow water areas, but also avoiding spots that might be dangerous for boat operation.

This tool can be used to quickly identify shallow food shelfs or key spawning areas that will congregate smallmouth bass in spring. When you zoom the map out, you’ll quickly notice how easy it is to spot the best shallow water areas all across the lake. All the flat bays and isolated rock piles light up the screen in greens and reds in such a way that you won’t miss a thing.

This allows you to quickly hop-scotch various high percentage locations, looking for the Lake Vermilion smallmouth bass that are drawn to these warm water areas.

Each of these spots will be laid out a little bit differently, some will have points, tapering flats, large rock piles, scattered boulders. The shallow-lipped Rapala Shadow Rap is a great weapon of choice for covering water across many of the rock laden shallow water spots that Lake Vermilion is famous for.

That said, it’s a diverse lake and Lake Vermilion smallmouth bass could be utilizing a variety of different habitat types including bulrushes, where swim jigs and topwater baits excel. The type of cover option you’re fishing should dictate the best lures and presentations for that area.