The bass fishing landscape has changed drastically in this bad economy, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great destinations–especially for smallmouth.

Guide Bill McBurney ( reminded me that already, even at that latitude, there are fish to catch and it’s going to get steadily better in the coming weeks. I pressed him about what the locals might be doing and what can someone expect if they go.

I’m sure he was smiling when he responded, “The locals (that could be any angler within 100 miles around here!) are doing fairly well now drop-shotting in the 30 to 40-foot range. And the fish are fat again this year.”

The growth makes a lot of sense. One, the lake level has risen over the last two years and as Bill noted, “And don’t forget Lake Powell is now inundated with two types of shad and they are the threadfin and gizzard.”

Bill is located in Page, Ariz. (check the map) and that puts him closer to civilization, as well as plenty of good bass action. While the Feburary bass are still outside, he says, “By March the bigger smallmouth and largemouth will be more active coming off winter and staging in the 25 foot range off points and submerged rock piles in most canyons. I like a darker crayfish colored tube on a 1/4-ounce head that we get here in Page. All the plastics will work, but we’re partial to Yamamoto because he started it all here on Powell.”

As the seascon continues, he explained, “By April the fish are staging more toward the brushy shoreline and by May they’re on the beds.”

And smallmouth are very cooperative at that time, as he says, “Tubes and grubs in any color over beds and a fluorocarbon leader helps.” After that, you have the option to “go weightless except for a tiny splitshot imbedded in the bait or a few feet above the bait–whatever gives your bait a twitch that you like best.”

Sounds good.