The smallmouth bass in Maryland offer a similar fishing experience to their largemouth cousins. They prefer fresh water, and stay mainly in rivers, reservoirs, ponds, lakes, and streams. With an abundance of fresh water systems in Maryland, these fish can be found and hooked across the state. Whether bait-fishing, fly-fishing, or using light spinning tackle, you’re sure to hook a smallmouth bass in Maryland.
The best characteristic to distinguish a smallmouth from a largemouth bass is the position of the maxillary, or large flap at the posterior end of the upper jaw. With the fish’s mouth closed, the maxillary will reach, but not obviously extend, beyond the eye–hence the name smallmouth. In largemouth bass the maxillary always extends past the back edge of the eye. Smallmouth bass are typically brown, bronze, or tan in color. Smallmouth bass also have dark vertical bars which are usually green or gray in color. In the largemouth bass you would see dark lateral band. Smallmouth like cool, clear streams with moderate current, as well as large, clear lakes. Preferred habit has a gravel or rubble substrate, boulders, some shade and cover, along with deep pools for stream environments.
Smallmouth bass are widespread despite not being native to Maryland waters. They were first introduced in 1834 when a B&O Railroad employee transported approximately 20 fish from the Wheeling River in West Virginia to the C&O Canal Basin in Cumberland, Maryland. Today they are found throughout the non-tidal Potomac and Susquehanna river watersheds and are common in most of our larger freshwater impoundments.