THERE’S BASS IN THEM THAR RIVERS   Leave a comment

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

Water conditions and structure available are important to the river bass angler.  Heavy current and a lack of structure generally mean no fish.  Bass generally lack the energy to fight a swift current for more than a few minutes.  To overcome fast water bass will stay behind some structure in the slack water or eddy and wait for the current to wash food to them.

The environment on big rivers is forever changing.  Every flood re arranges the bottom structure by changing deep channels and washing along new obstacles.  A good rule of thumb is that unless you fished a certain are recently you may never have fished it, as it exists today.

That is not to say that you cannot have a honey hole.  Honey holes are where water temporarily slows or stops.  These can be areas such as eddies behind snags, below sandbars or following a cut in the river bank.  That is where the fish are likely to hide.

Along the shore line it is important to look for shady areas on water.  It can be beneath a tree overhanging or a boat piling.  Areas around old boats or wrecked barges attract bass.  Wooden structures and brush piles are especially good locations for bass.

Water temperatures do not vary much in rivers as they do in lakes and ponds.  Because bass are cold-blooded they react differently in the cool water of a river than in the ever changing water temperatures of more still water.  In warm water bass cannot remain active for long periods of time without undergoing stress.  Therefore they are inactive for periods of time and then feed in short “feeding frenzies.”

In cool waters of 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 an important factor in river fishing.  Seldom is the water really “clear.”  Subtle presentations seldom are a choice for such water.  Big, bright, noisy lures seem to be more productive.  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 other fish to then or catch them before they wash away in the current.

Lures such as jointed minnows, buzz baits, and an occasional rubber frog are effective.  Anglers on some river systems seem to prefer crankbaits and ringworms.  For the no-competition angler the ever popular minnow is good for bass bait.  Just hook it through the back and “live line” it.

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

Plastic worms work well when exploring sandbars.  Bass will move back and forth over submerged sandbars.  Patience is the key to fishing this location.  It is a good idea to visit such places several times during a day on the water.

You may catch several fish in a few minutes and then nothing.  Thirty minutes later you may catch several more and then again nothing.

Most bass anglers seem to prefer six- to 6 1/2-foot medium-action rods with bait casting reels.  For river fishing perhaps a heavy rod or two might be in order for those snagy areas.  Line probably should be on the heavy side.

Perhaps something in the 12-pound test class is called for.  One can experiment to find what works best in the river conditions he is mostly likely to encounter.

It is no secret that lakes and impoundments are a bit crowded on the weekends when most people want to fish.  Switching to rivers can alleviate that problem.  Most anglers live but a few minutes from a lake or pond.  We tend to concentrate on such water and ignore river bass.  Rivers have improved in water quality in recent years.  Most now contain bass.  Now is a time to try river bass fishing.

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