How to catch river bass is a question that many anglers will face in their fishing career. For that reason, in this post we are going to talk about some tips on where these bass can be located under these circumstance. We will also look at some great lures to throw and how to present them to catch more fish.
Where to look for bass on a river – It is all about the current
When fishing a lake we usually take into consideration such factors as the time of year, the weather, water temperature to pinpoint where the fish might be. For example, when fishing a hot blue bird day we know based on these conditions that the best time of day to fish for bass would be early in the morning or late in the afternoon. If we were to fish during the day, we know that most likely bass will be holding up in deeper waters.
However, when fishing for bass on a river things are a little bit different. The main factor we are going to look at when getting on a river is the current. This is because the current is the main source of food. It will literally bring the food to the fish. Having that in mind, bass are going to be holding up in areas where they can get an easy meal.
So the first place to start looking for bass regardless of the temperature or time of year is in areas where there are breaks in the current, such as bridge pilings, docks, a large boulders, points, humps under the water, behind an island, etc. Look for areas where the fast water meets the slow water. These are great areas to start fishing because bass like to sit in these areas where there is little current and wait for food to be brought to them by the current. Once they see food they will swim out, get it and return back to their spot.
Once you have located the breaks in currents, toss out your favorite lure into the faster water and bring it down that the break’s edge. Most likely this will result in a fish or two. The faster current, as the result of a rainstorm, can put the fish into a feeding frenzy and are great times to be out on the river fishing for bass.
On the flip side if there is little to no current bass will start to spread out, they most likely won’t be holding up in these slow current areas. This can make them difficult to locate and thus more difficult to catch. It is important to note that even under normal prime fishing conditions if there is little or no current the fish won’t be actively feeding. Your best bet is to fish when there is current.
The coolest thing about fishing a river is that it is always changing. The bite might not be the best one hour and the next hour you could find yourself in a smallmouth feeding frenzy. So don’t give up if the conditions are producing the results you would like.
What baits should I throw when fishing a river?
We know that learning how to catch river bass involves more than locating the fish, we also need to throw the right bait. Let’s briefly consider 4 of our favorite river baits.
Lipless crankbaits. Lipless crankbaits are a great option when fishing for river bass because they perfectly imitate a baitfish. Many options on the market also have rattles which can enhance your presentation, but the most important thing is to match the hatch. Find out what the fish are feeding on a try to fish a crankbait that imitates that baitfish.
Square bill crankbait. Sometimes when fishing a river there are no breaks in the current. However, keep in mind that the closer to the bank the weaker the current. Under these conditions the best place to start fishing is near the bank. In my opinion, there is no better way to catch basss in shallow water than with a square bill crankbait, especially when fishing hard bottom rivers.
Tubes. Tubes are another great bait when fishing for river bass because they imitate baitfish and they also imitate crawfish. We all know that smallmouth can’t help but resist munching on a crawfish. Simply toss it out and let it work its magic.
Drop Shot. Yes, drop shots are usually our go to lure when the conditions are tough, but they also can be very effective on the river. Simply cast it out usually down current and slowly bring it back to the boat. It works best fishing it down current as the current will actually give your lure some action.
It is all about presentation
Just as important to choosing the right lure is choosing the right way to present it. Many times fishermen will cast their lure down stream and bring it upstream. Depending on the lure selection this could be a great way get some bites, but a better way, would be to fish it in the opposite manner.
When presenting our lures we need to remember the current and the location of the fish. On a river bass will usually be holding up in current breaks facing the current (upstream), waiting for an easy target. If we were to cast downstream and bring it upstream would actually be bringing the lure from behind the fish which can result in spooking them.
A better way would be cast it upstream and bring it downstream this can imitate a baitfish struggling in the fast current and appear like an easy meal.
At first, catching river bass can seem overwhelming, but the key to locating bass is to understand the current. A fast current can activate feeding and make bass more predictable. Once you understand that you should be on your way to catching more fish.
Catching river bass can be fun, so get out there, put on your wading boots and start fishing.
Now it is your turn, please share with us your tips on how to catch river bass in the comments section below.