Striper0003_edited-1Crossing the Ohio River last week from Kentucky to Illinois, the stained water from spring flooding up river reminds one of how important clean water is to fishing it.

Smithland Pool is a bass factory.  But, finding clear water is the key to success in catching them.  Clear water might be in any of a dozen different locations.

Smithland Pool is a 72 mile long section of the Ohio River up river from the Smithland Lock and Dam.  Completed in 1980, the dam backed water up and caused the level in the creeks to rise 12 to 15 feet.  The result was a 27,000 acre fish heaven.

There are 10 major streams and 12 minor tributaries that enter the river from the Illinois side alone.  From the Kentucky side there are an additional 8 streams and five tributaries.  Because these tributaries and streams are spring fed, they tend to be clearer than is the main river.

The amount of fishable locations in Smithland can be a bit over whelming.  The key is to choose a creek and study it.  The amount of standing and fallen timber is frustrating.  One can work the river and creek bends that contain deadfalls or a divergence of vegetation growth.  The changes in water color are important to the way bass feed. Bass prefer the clearer water.

Leaving from the Golconda Marina, anglers often move right into Lusk Creek only a few yards down river.  It is just north of mile 890.  Because of its proximity to the marina, the fishing pressure, in the creek, is heavy.  It does produce a lot of good fish.  The combination of clear water and cover attract the threadfin shad from the river.  The shad then are the forage base for the bass.

Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits will all work in Lusk Creek.

Dog Creek just north of the dam on the Illinois side of the river allows anglers to go way back in there, if you find the right way.  There are a number of dead end feeder creeks.  One needs to stay with the current.  It is possible to go 3 or 4 miles back to an area full of lily pads.  Throw spinnerbaits and buzzbaits in such colors as shad and blue gill colors.  A red Mud Bug works well on occasion.

Below Golconda are Barren, Bay and Grand Pere Creeks.  Anglers flip and pitch to the standing timber and deadfalls.  Spinner baits and crankbaits are a good start for active fish.

Slow presentations of plastic worms and jigs, often find fish the less aggressive fish.  The slower presentations work well in root systems.

Fishing the main river in June the water is clearer.  It is possible to find stumps in the clear water of the main river that are 10 to 12 feet down.  Tossing a Pop‑R over those stumps can lead to taking a lot of good fish.

Moving north from the dam, some other popular areas for bass anglers are the channels on the Kentucky side of the river.  They run between the shoreline and such islands as Stewart’s Island, Sister Islands, and Pryors Island.  The channels receive a lot of pressure but a lot of good fish come from there.

Slow rolled spinnerbaits and salt craws are popular lures.  Favorite colors seem to be black and chartreuse.

Although the most popular areas are south of Golconda, Love Creek and the Treadwater tributaries to the north are good areas. The same lures used in other areas of the pool work here as well.


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