When fishing Lake Kabetogama, or in the connected lakes such as Namakan, smallmouths are sometimes caught shallow, but they are seldom more than 10-20 yards away from deep water.
Everywhere we go, we see the majority of bass anglers beating the shoreline, and as this may work for largemouth bass most of the time, if you are after big smallmouth bass, turn around and cast to the open water rather than beat the shore.
Unlike largemouth, smallmouth often group together by size. We found that if we were catching smaller fish, in the eleven to fourteen inch range, we rarely caught a big one in the same area.
On the other hand, when we caught a smallmouth that was
about four or five pounds, many times there were several that size and even larger swimming right along with them. Big largemouth bass are loners, usually found by them on the best piece of structure, while larger smallmouth bass will often school together. There are several things that tell you that smallmouth bass are much better suited for strong current than largemouth. For one, their pointed noses and the sharp angle of their fins are indicators that they are more suited to current. They often get behind a rock or stump and rush out to feed.
In Kabetogama, try fishing the Shipwreck Islands, the east end of Cutover Island and Sugarbush Island. In Namakan, Squaw Narrows, Mica Island and the points up in Mica Bay can be great. Namakan Island has more good spots for the fisherman to try. When fishing Namakan, a good GPS is useful to always know where the US-Canada border is.