Smallmouth Bass Fishing South Bass Island

smallmouth bass
smallmouth bass

Bass fishing South Bass Island is similar to fishing Kelleys Island as they are in the same vicinity. All of the islands in this area offer great smallmouth bass fishing. Depending on the time of year you can find smallmouth bass at all depths. People travel from all over the United States to fish for smallmouth bass around the Ohio Lake Erie Islands.

North of South Bass Island

The North side of South Bass Island is a great place to start while searching for smallmouth bass. North Bay holds fish at all times of the year, but at different depths. In the spring, focus on the flats in 9-12 FOW. In the summer/fall focus on the ledges toward Middle Bass Island in 18-24 FOW. The long underwater point off of the green buoy is a great place to catch smallmouth bass.

West side of South Bass Island

The West side of the island is most productive after the spawn in July and August. Fish can be found in 12-15 FOW shortly after the spawn. In late summer focus on 20+ FOW in West Bay. There is a flat from the shore to about 16 FOW, then it drops off after that down to 30+ FOW. Focus on the that drop off in the summer time. Use livescope and side imaging to find the fish first.

South Side

The South Side of the island is a hot spot during the prespawn and spawn. Fish can be found in 17-21 FOW prespawn. During the spawn fish are around 9-12 FOW just off the shore. Fish the ferry dock and around Starve Island. Be careful around Starve Island as the water is shallow in spots. This is a great numbers area if you are looking to catch a lot of fish in the spring.

East Side

The East side of South Bass Island is a community fishing ground. This is where most fisherman will be mid to late summer. Smallmouth Bass will roam the entire East side during this time to look for food. Fish 19-24 FOW in mid to late summer. During the spawn, smallmouth move up into the bowl in front of Perry’s Monument. You can find fish in that bowl until late June.

Smallmouth Bass Lures


Fishing a dropshot for smallmouth bass is the most productive way. Finding single boulders can be productive fishing a dropshot. On Lake Erie, most choose to fish a smaller profile bait with a 1/4-3/8 ounce weight depending on current and depth. A good dropshot lure to try is a halfshell. Fish the dropshot bait on a #6 hook.


In late spring and summer, a swimbait can be a fun way to catch Smallmouth Bass. With a swimbait you can fish points and underwater structure. Find long underwater points that have good boulders and structure. Cast the swimbait out and reel in skimming the bottom. A 3.8 swimbait works best on a 1/4 ounce head.

Tube Jig

A tube jig is an all around good bait to catch smallmouth bass. On Lake Erie, most fisherman are using a 3/8 ounce head and a 4″ bait. If the fish are neutral, switch to a 3″ tube. Green pumpkin works best. Drag the bait slow over the structure, don’t pop it. If the lure is popped you will have an increased chance of catching only drum.