As my Wednesday evening usual, I get the Bonafide SS127 out and do a two and a half hour float by myself. I find it very odd but satisfying that my best days always come with when fishing alone, far behind, or ahead of all my buddies who are floating with me. I don’t know what it is. Maybe its the quiet time alone that focuses me on the fishing. There is just something special about being able to dissect a whole stretch of river on your own. Don’t get me wrong, I love floating rivers with my buddies Justin and Josh, it’s always a good time.
I have been hitting a stretch of the river that my buddy Justin and I discovered a few years ago wade fishing. This spot is loaded with smallmouth bass of all varies sizes and has yielded quite a few really good fish. I start out fishing right where put in is because its a great summer spring and summer spot to fish. This spot has it all, fast current, a seam where fast current and slow moving water meet, an eddy, shallow riffles, and a pool above the riffles. Within the first 10 minutes upon arriving, I have a fish on and bring it in. This smallmouth was about 12-14” but extremely healthy and fat. That fish was caught on a white whopper plopper right off the current seam. I notice that as the evening approaches, these summer fish like to hang out on those seams to feed up. Same goes for the morning. During the heat of the day, those fish hang out in fast current in the summer time.
I decided to paddle upstream to this spot I mentioned earlier that my buddy and I found. This spot is awesome. Its on a sharp bend in the river and it loaded with huge chunks of rock. Now the current here isn’t super fast and there isn’t a raging riffle, but the topography of this area is very cool. It starts out coming around the corner, bouncing off a point where a storm drain comes in and creates a quick moving eddy right off the bat. This eddy is roughly five and a half feet deep. Followed after the eddy, the current going down stream slows down a little, but the depth changes quiet a bit, and gets shallower the more you go downstream until you hit a “semi riffle” but its not actually a riffle but rather slower current being diverted in multiple directions but multiple huge rocks. After that the water deepens back up again and so on and so forth. This stretch follows that formula for 3 separate pools and once the current makes its way past the last set of huge rocks, the river drops down deep to 10 ft and followed by yet another bend. Fishing that deep current in the summer time is key in catching some big smallmouth in this area. As the river makes it way around the final bend, the river really starts to shallow up again coming back to the riffle where I like to put in.
Now that I have the area described, I’ll talk a little bit about my tactics on catching these smallmouth throughout this whole stretch. My main goal with this blog is to help people understand rivers and how to fish them. I really want to go into depth on how to read the river and what causes the river to do certain things. I don’t consider myself a river professional by any means, but I do feel confident in my skills to find and catch smallmouth bass on the river. With that said, lets get into some of my techniques that have worked for me on this last trip.
As mentioned before, i caught my first find of the evening on a whopper plopper off of a current seam. You can use quite a bit of lures in areas like this. My go too lures in areas with a current seam and slow moving water is swimbaits, grubs on a 1/8 oz jighead, buzzbaits or whopper plopper, spinnerbaits (smallmouth love the colors white and chartreuse for any bait), Zman finesse TRD, and tubes. Most of those baits work well in quick current as well. Just remember that the quicker the current, the heavier oz jighead you should be using to get your lure down into the strike zone. Thats crucial to catching more fish. I think thats where a lot of guys go wrong, they will stick to using only 1/8 oz when thy should be throwing 1/4 oz.
Heading on upstream where I mentioned all these rocks, the eddy, and deep hole. I start fishing this area pointing upstream always because I don’ want to paddle through the areas i want to fish throughly. I start out throwing the deep hole first, Here I have been throwing the Zman TRD into the deep moving current. I ended up catching a couple nice ones out of that spot. Now, I do fish swimbaits in that area as well, but haven’t been lately because of my current obsession with the TRD. Hardly do i ever throw any topwater at this spot, it never seems to work and I think its because the water is just deep there. The next few spots I fish all the same way. I’ll post up on a rock on the shoreline with my leg holding me in place so the current isn’t taking me downstream. These spots have little channels coming around these big rocks and causes it to be great ambush spots for smallmouth. These areas, i love throwing the swimbaits, topwater, TRD, or even a square bill shallow diver crankbait. Sometimes the erratic action on the square bill bouncing off rocks drives smallmouth insane and they have to hit it. Final spot, the quick moving eddy. This spot is hit or miss when though there is a current seam that bounces off this point. I hav caught fish in this eddy before, but its never consistent. I love throwing the TRD in this area. Also, if the river is up and muddy, I found a pattern where the fish like to hide in the back corner near this water inlet grate. The water doesn’t move back there at all and is a protected area from flooding and surrounded by big rock, manmade concrete, and grass. I think the smallmouth go to those types of area for protection. This is where I have learned that a chatterbatis really shines on the river. Anywhere there is a grass line and the water is up and muddy, throw a black and blue chatterbait near those weed lines and I’ll guarantee you catch some fish. Thats a pattern I put together rather quickly this year since our rivers in Ohio have been up and muddy almost all year long. I also noticed that those weeds act as a filter as well. Not only does it create more oxygen, but the weeds help filter out the mud from the water. There is always clearer water in weed lines. Remember that when fishing spring and fall for river smallmouth.
My main colors I have been throwing this year has been black and blue because of the muddy waters. You want to use black baits or black and blue baits and also something that vibrates to help the fish track down the bait. the darker the bait, the easier it is for the fish to see in muddy waters. As mentioned before, I love pearly white colors for smallmouth as well as anything with chartreuse. When the water is clearer, I’ll opt for more natural color baits like green pumpkin, white, silver.
Hopefully this blog post will inspire you to get out and try fishing rivers for smallmouth and hopefully you have learned something through my rambling and experiences. Get out there and fish!