Like most fish species found in North America, bass are found in just about any type body of water, not just your favorite pond or lake, they are found, quite often in abundance, in our rivers. Lakes and ponds, large or small, present many challenges to anglers both in finding fish…
Like most fish species found in North America, bass are found in just about any type body of water, not just your favorite pond or lake, they are found, quite often in abundance, in our rivers. Lakes and ponds, large or small, present many challenges to anglers both in finding fish and catching quality fish, whether its finding that one special stump submerged in eight feet of water that only you know of, or knowing where to find just the right hump with grass to catch those heavy pre spawn females, rivers present anglers these challenges as well as a host of unique challenges which must be figured out in order to be successful.
Most natural and many man made lakes, ponds and reservoirs are “still waters”, in other words there is little to no current except what is made by wind or power generation, rivers on the other hand have a continuous natural flow, no matter if it is fast or slow, the current is always there. Current on a river can be your best friend or your worst enemy depending on how you approach it in your fishing. One of the best things about current, is that if its not too fast it can really save your trolling battery, and this may really just be common sense, but if want to fish a particular area along a bank, you simply pass it up, turn around and let the current bring you right back down again, using your trolling motor for slight adjustments in your course and best part is your moving silently, no whirring prop in the water to spook fish.
Another aspect of the current is that it can somewhat tell you a good place to possibly find fish. Think if you had to constantly walk into a 100 mph head wind, you would be exhausted, any chance you get to get out of the wind and relax even a little would be a wonderful feeling, even if there was still a 40 mph wind it would be a break. The river’s current is pretty much the same thing to a bass, they are constantly being affected by the rivers current, so any little nook, eddy, toppled over tree or stump can present a bass with a little comfort or rest area, where the current can be considerably less. These leeward sides can hold multiple fish many times depending on size, here in the south heavy winds and hurricanes can knock hundreds of trees down each year, when I find 4 or 5 trees in a row knocked into the river, I will fish every inch of them from the trunk on the bank to the tops out in the deeper water and usually can catch a limit of fish in a rather short time period. Smaller feeder creeks can present a similar pattern as the current in these waters generally tends to be considerably less than the main river, but again check the current direction and fish with the current letting it carry you down stream keying on the leeward sides of structure or cover.
Imagine you go to a restaurant, you sit down, but no waiter comes to take your order, instead there is a conveyor with all the food the restaurant offers, you simply pick what you want to eat when it comes by, you don’t have to walk to a buffet line, you just wait for your food to come to you. While we can only dream of this, a river bass lives it, they simply wait in a good leeward spot and when their food passes by they spring out to grab it with the least amount of energy being expended. Shad, small frogs, lizards all have to fight the same current the bass does, and at some point they are going to have to reach a bank or find a place to rest, same as the bass, and when they do if a bass is already there, well then they just became the main course. Keep this in mind when presenting your baits, let the current carry your bait to the bass, I prefer fishing Texas rigged soft plastics for this very reason, the current carries them rather well, and can bring them right to a waiting bass, try to cast the lure right to a particular target, and allow it to float or free fall before setting the reel, you find sometimes there is already a fish on your line when you click the reel. Another good presentation is an appropriate crank bait, right size, color, for the conditions, but is also a shallow running bait, you can cast it out to your target, give it some slack, and let the current carry it past the target, then close the reel and retrieve it according to what the fish want, slow, fast, pausing, by using a crank bait it gives you some options for fishing tree tops, stumps, tree trunks, or any other structure or cover where fish might be holding and gives you the ability to search the different depths where the fish might be.
While these are by no means the end all be all to Bass fishing a river they can get you started if you’ve never fished a river before, like anything else all it takes is some practice and knowing what to look for, if you apply a lot of the same methods and techniques used for fishing lakes and ponds you will be successful on a river, just remember to let the river work for you, don’t try to fight it because the river and the fish will win every time. Good Luck!!