TIPS FOR CATCHING RIVER RUN BASS IN THE SPRING   Leave a comment

As spring flooding finally recedes, ground pounders rejoice. It is time to get back on the bank and do your thing.

River fishing is really hunting for “fishy water”. To be successful in finding bass the river angler must know how to read the river conditions.

Water conditions and structure available are important to the river bass angler. Heavy current and lack of structure generally means no fish. Bass just do not have the energy to fight a swift current for more than a few minutes. To overcome fast water conditions bass stay behind some structure in the slack water and wait for the current to wash food to them.

The environment on big rivers is constantly changing. Every flood rearranges the bottom structure by changing deep channels, and washing in new obstacles. Unless you fished a certain area recently, you may never have fished it, as it exists today.

That is not to say there are no honey holes. Honey holes are usually where the water slows or stops temporarily. These can be areas such as eddies behind snags, below sandbars or following a cut in the riverbank.

Along the shoreline, look for areas where shade is cast on the water. This can be a tree overhanging or a man made structure. Areas around old boats or other junk attract bass. Wooden structures and brush piles are especially good locations.

Unlike lakes and ponds, water temperatures do not vary much with rivers. Because bass are cold blooded, they react differently in the cool water of a river than in the changing water temperatures of more still water. In warm water, bass cannot remain active for long periods without undergoing stress. They are inactive for periods and then feed in short “feeding frenzies”. In rivers, the flowing and mixing action of current oxygenates the water and allows the bass to feed for more extended periods, even on the hottest days of summer.

Water clarity is important in river fishing. Seldom is the water really “clear.” Subtle presentations seldom are the choice for such waters. Big, bright, noisy lures seem to do better.

Big bass in rivers like to take advantage of wounded baitfish or unfortunate creatures that fall into the river. They hit them fast and hard in order to beat the competition or before they wash away in the current. Lures such as jointed minnows, buzzbaits and a rubber frog are effective. Anglers on some river systems seem to prefer crankbaits and ringworms. For the ground pounder, the ever-popular minnow is good bait. Just hook the minnow through the back and “live line” it.

For those using plastic worms, it is probably a good idea to work them more slowly. One just keeps the slack out of the line and works the line over the bottom with a slow retrieve. Be a “line watcher.” Set the hook when anything unusual happens to the line. Many of the pick-ups will be subtle.

Plastic worms work well when exploring sand bars. Bass move back and forth over submerged sandbars. Patience is the key to fishing sand bars. It is a good idea to visit such places several times during a day. One may catch several fish in a few minutes and then nothing. Thirty minutes later, you can catch several more and then again nothing.

Most bass anglers seem to prefer 6 to 6 ½-foot medium action rods with bait cast reels. For river fishing, one can experiment to find what works best in the river conditions most likely encountered.

It is no secret that lakes and impoundments are a bit crowded on the weekends. Switch to rivers to alleviate the problem. Most ground pounders live but a few minutes away from a lake or pond. We tend to concentrate on such water and ignore river bass. Rivers have improved in water quality. Most now contain bass. Now is the time to try bass fishing in the river.

058063-R1-35-35

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