River fishing provides some very exciting smallmouth bass fishing. The river smallmouth tend to be stronger from swimming against the current on a daily basis, and once you get them on your line you will have to fight the current as well. Because of this, a 2 pound smallmouth bass in the river will fight more like a 2.5 to 3.5 pound bass from a lake.
Best River Types
The best rivers for smallmouth are moderate-gradient rivers with cool temperatures and plenty of riffles. Slow-moving rivers and fast-moving rivers are usually not suitable for large populations of smallmouth bass. The slower rivers warm up too quickly and usually have a flat, silty bottom. The faster rivers have currents that are too strong. However, there are some exceptions.
Spring & Fall Migrations
In rivers, smallmouth bass are predictable In the spring and fall, there are usually large migrations up river until the fish can’t go any farther upstream. The dams and spillways offer awesome fishing during the spring and fall. Deeper pools with boulders, logs, rock ledges, or rock bottoms will usually hold some smallmouth bass throughout the rest of the season. The best pools are just below shallow riffles so the smallmouth can jet out and snag an easy meal when they are hungry. After they feed, they go back and rest in the deeper water.
Water Levels Make a Huge Difference
The water levels play a huge role in where the fish will be as well. During low water, fish will be found in the deeper pools, making it easy to find them. When the water is high, fish will be spread out throughout the entire river, but they can often be found along the current breaks along the shorelines. In high water situations, you may catch smallmouth bass in just a couple feet of water. When the water is low, you may have to stick to the deeper pools that may be anywhere from 5 to 20 plus feet deep.
Current Breaks Are Key
Smallmouth bass relate to current breaks so much in the rivers. You can usually find plenty of smallmouth bass in high current areas, but these fish are usually behind a boulder resting while they wait for some food to pass by. Smallmouth bass seem to like some current, so fish the current breaks near some decent current and you will most likely find some smallmouth bass.
Don’t be Afraid to Fish Shallower in Rivers
You can catch smallmouth bass so shallow in most rivers. In the summer time when you may be used to fishing 20 to 25 feet down on your favorite lake, you can easily be catching smallies in just a few feet of water on a river system. Don’t rule out the shallow water even when you think water temperatures should push them deeper. The water levels will usually force them to go deeper more than the higher water temperatures that the summer brings. This takes some getting used to for anglers that don’t fish for smallmouth bass in rivers very often.
Get out the Lipless Crankbaits
Lipless crankbaits are one of the best lures to use for smallmouth bass in the rivers. Most of the good smallmouth bass rivers will hold plenty of fish in the 3 to 8 foot depth range and lipless crankbaits are made for covering water at these depths. Cast, retrieve and hang on because the strikes can be violent at times.