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Hawkeye21

River fishing for large mouth bass

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When most people think about fishing for largemouth bass they think of fishing ponds and lakes.  When it comes to rivers most think of smallmouth, walleyes, catfish and many other species but rarely to they think of largemouth.  Since I live close to the Mississippi River I like to bass fish there and I've noticed that it's completely different than fishing a pond or lake.

 

I was curious if any members here are experienced river fisherman and wanted to know if you had any advice.  How do you fish a river different than a lake and why?  It really is amazing how different it can be.

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@scaleface fishes the Mississippi I believe and does pretty well. 

 

Idk his experienced I am but I love fishing the Chattahoochee and do so often since I live so close to it. The main difference for me is on a ricer I am always fishing cover and throwing into the nastiest stuff I can find. I will also add that current plays a huge role in how the bass are positioned. The other thing that is very important but not mentioned is how close to the bank river fish will be. There are many undercuts and sometimes if my lure doesn't bounce off the bank I won't get bit.

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I've boated largemouth bass in rivers from Canada to Florida, not the least of which were

the St Lawrence, Delaware, Chattahoochee and St Johns River.

 

The key factor is "current", which virtually dictates stream fishing (river, creek or brook).

Even in a riverine impoundment, the generation schedule at the dam

is as important as the tide tables in saltwater.

 

Roger

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Not sure how the Mississippi and other rivers compare to ththe Ohio, but typically our most productive fishing is in the Spring around the spawn (April-June) for largemouths and spotted bass.  In the Pool around Louisville it seems like spotted bass have virtually taken over.  I have found the best fishing to be in marinas and creeks off the main river.  However it is possible to find spotted bass schooled up pre-spawn, in the mouths of creeks and marinas.  Could catch one after another like this but they are all likely to be the same size.  I've yet to figure out how where the biggest spots go.  

I've caught so many 1-1.5 pounders, I don't have any idea what happens after...if they just seldom grow bigger or if they die off somehow but there should definitely be more bigger fish around here based on the number of smaller fish caught.

 

Also, I have had the most success targeting docks....spring to early summer in the creeks and marinas and in the summer on the main river....using primarily moving baits, Baby Minus 1, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits.  Also rattletraps for schooling spots.  Anytime during the summer you can find grasslines, especially if mixed with docks or other cover it's a sure bet...especially with current to direct the fish although the Ohio commonly fishes more like a lake in the summer time as there isn't much current in my experience.  At least not enough to reliably pattern fish in that pool.

 

If I could have only one bait to fish a river with, it would definitely be a Mann's Baby Minus 1.

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Im a river rat. Home water is the arkansas river. On the arkansas a big difference is its mainly shallow water presentations. Even in summer the bass aren't what most would consider deep.

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I fished in a bass tourney on the Mississippi last year on May 1st and we went into a backwater are that just looked ideal for bass.  It was picture perfect but we only managed one bite.  It was that day that we realized that we couldn't fish the river like we do ponds.  Talked to another guy in the tourney who went north like 20 miles to a spot he knew held big bass that time of year.  We managed 2 bass for about 3 pounds and the guy we talked to got his 5 for close to 14 pounds.  It was obvious he knew what he was doing and we didn't.

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I've only fished two pools 21 and 22 , havent done it for several years. Riprap banks and wing dams are real good in the summer . I like to use Bomber Deep Flat A's in chartreuse . The fun part is not only do bass bite on these spots but so do a lot of other species . We caught nine different kinds one day . Back waters and creeks are good to 

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Current.

 

Rivers have stronger and more pronounced current than lakes or reservoirs.

 

Start by reading all you can regarding fishing tidal rivers and apply that knowledge to fishing your rivers.

 

Then expand to rivers that do not have tidal current and you have figured out how to fish rivers.

 

Good luck.

 

P.S. Been to Iowa and it was the first time I actually stood straight up and was eye to eye to a hog. First time I had ever seen a hog that big, too.

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I fish the Tittabawassee River chain a lot and there are two main things I look for when targeting smallmouth and two things I look for when targeting largemouth:

 

Smallmouth:

1. Current breaks/slack water

2. Pockets/Outside Bends

 

Largemouth:

1. Cover

2. More cover!

 

 

There isn't as many creek intersections on this chain as a lot of rivers out there so this plays little into my gameplan. I will however fish one if I come across it.

 

 

The fish in my picture (my PB largemouth) was caught in a creek while wading. She was hanging out in a culvert.

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Outside bends and high banks in my home river. Find nearest Cypress trees and hammer them. Always watch your current. No water flow, inactive fish. Tidal driven rivers can be a pain. Can't tell ya what baits cause everywhere is different. Biggest thing I know is that outside bends usually have deeper water. When the water rises due to tide here low banks are bad news cause they push so far back

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Ive had heard people talk about this tactic , I tried it a couple of times with no success . On the Mississippi , below   islands  is a long point . Look for cover and current breaks on those bars. Always made sense to me but never had any luck at it .

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In my river and creek fishing experiences here and Ohio I've found smallmouth tolerate current much better than largemouth. I've found smallmouth sitting right in the middle of ripples, or right below waiting for food. I have never caught a largemouth in faster moving water, or even in small eddies or slack next to it. For me I find largemouth to be sitting on or right behind heavy cover in large slack areas or just slower moving water areas. Due to current the fish regardless of species are usually right up against cover like logs, trees, or rocks. I find it most productive to cast upstream and bring the bait with the current as close to the cover as possible.

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I'm a PA river rat and what is a mind blower when you're fishing a picture perfect lay down from front to back, at least that's how I fish it. Outside of the laydown fishing it toward the bank. You'll hook into a Smallie on the outside of the laydown and as you fish your way back toward the bank you pull a largemouth off the same piece of structure. I've always thought that was pretty cool when that happens. 

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On 4/3/2017 at 0:54 PM, RoLo said:

 

I've boated largemouth bass in rivers from Canada to Florida, not the least of which were

the St Lawrence, Delaware, Chattahoochee and St Johns River.

 

The key factor is "current", which virtually dictates stream fishing (river, creek or brook).

Even in a riverine impoundment, the generation schedule at the dam

is as important as the tide tables in saltwater.

 

Roger

 

Current trumps everything.

 

:fishing-026:

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I'm heading out to the river tomorrow to do some pre-fishing for a tourney on Sunday.  The weather has been close to 70 the last week but today it's in the 50's and tomorrow will be in the 40's.  Sunday is suppose to be in the 40's as well with rain.  I don't have very high expectations.  Not even sure I'm looking forward to it anymore.

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I have floated from the dam to the first bridge on the Wateree R several times and I've caught bass every time. It seems to me every tree, limb, rock or other object on a deeper inside bend is worth a cast. I've also caught some large bream and peanut stripers. I've seen lots of gar and people catch a lot of big blue cats at the tailrace. I've mostly used shallow craw cranks like the Rebel Wee Craw. It seems to me when it's hot and bass are mostly in a negative mood, they'll still bite in the river. It's cooler with more DO.

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Current breaks and cover,Find the bait,Spots like crawdads as much as Smallies do.

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CURRENT.  CURRENT.  CURRENT.

 

I grew up fishing fast moving mountain rivers for smallmouth, then moved South, next to a deep, slow moving river full of largemouth.  Current is the biggest factor in both circumstances.

 

For river largemouth, we have a progression that we look for:

 

1. Mixing water.  If we can find clear water pouring out of a creek, or even a trickle of "black" water oozing into our stained river, we've probably found the active bass.  The bait fish hide in the breaklines, and the active bass flock to them like a fat man to the dinner Bell.  Our best presentations here are crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits.  The lure typically isn't as important as matching the color to the water (use colors appropriate for the dingier main river).

 

2.  Outside bends.  Over time the water will wash our little "caves" in these banks.  Bass love to back up into them, and rest in the shade and current break.  They will take an easy meal if it presents itself.  Our best presentations are jigs and Texas rigged plastics.

 

3.  Cover.  Fallen trees, cypress knees, bridge pilings, boat docks, rocks, grass clumps, etc.  Largemouth are lazy, and tend to use the cover as a current break to get a little rest.  There are two great presentations here.  If the fish are active (mornings, evenings, prespawn, Fall frenzy, etc.), try bringing a moving bait to the fish from an upstream position.  If the fish are inactive (midday, postspawn, summer when it's just hot as blue blazes), try a virtical presentation.  I like to drop a jig or plastic right on their nose.

 

Now, when you find a spot that has two of those factors, you've found gold.  If you find all three, you've found fish heaven!

 

Of course, none of this means a thing if you don't pay attention to the current.

 

One of our best holes is a creek (that often creates mixing water), on an outside bend, that has a few fallen trees below the surface.  All of these factors combine to form the perfect storm of current breaks.  We try to cast just beyond any little current breaks, eddies, or slackwater spots, and bring out baits through them.  

 

River largemouth are a blast!  They're typically a little shorter than our lake bass in the, but they're stockier.  I presume this is from the constant workout the current provides.  Whatever the reason, they fight more like smallmouth, and love to use the current to get away from the ugly guyin my avatar!

 

Good luck!

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Nothing to add, just a "Howdy" from an Iowa guy. Used to go to Guttenberg with my dad as a kid, we were literally the smallest boat out there but we had fun. Fished for anything that would bite.

 

Go Hawks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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21 hours ago, HawkeyeSmallie said:

Nothing to add, just a "Howdy" from an Iowa guy. Used to go to Guttenberg with my dad as a kid, we were literally the smallest boat out there but we had fun. Fished for anything that would bite.

 

Go Hawks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

That's where I do most of my river fishing.  I just took my kayak out on the Maquoketa River yesterday and it was miserable.  LOL

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If you were there roughly 30 years ago we were the small jon boat with a 9 horse on the back bouncing up and down when the barges went by. My dad used to just pick it up and put it in the bed of his truck. It worked and sorta fun (for a kid).

 

Yes, yesterday was a miserable Iowa day. Didn't fish but walked around a golf course watching my daughter get her first win. :)

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2 hours ago, HawkeyeSmallie said:

If you were there roughly 30 years ago we were the small jon boat with a 9 horse on the back bouncing up and down when the barges went by. My dad used to just pick it up and put it in the bed of his truck. It worked and sorta fun (for a kid).

 

Yes, yesterday was a miserable Iowa day. Didn't fish but walked around a golf course watching my daughter get her first win. :)

 

Congrats.  It certainly was an ugly day.  Was going to fish on bass tourney out of East Dubuque this Sunday but backed out because of the weather.  Temps in the low 40's, 100% chance of rain, thunder and winds up to 25mph.  No thank you.

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Yeah this weekend sucks for the outdoors. I was going to take this afternoon off and take the boys Crappie fishing but cancelled that plan. A really nice guy (complete stranger) told me a place where they have been biting like crazy. Hopefully it will continue another week.

 

But I JUST got a call from Scheels that my new rod came in. Perfect weather to do some man shopping I guess.

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2 hours ago, HawkeyeSmallie said:

Yeah this weekend sucks for the outdoors. I was going to take this afternoon off and take the boys Crappie fishing but cancelled that plan. A really nice guy (complete stranger) told me a place where they have been biting like crazy. Hopefully it will continue another week.

 

But I JUST got a call from Scheels that my new rod came in. Perfect weather to do some man shopping I guess.

 

I'm looking forward to relaxing and watching the NFL draft.

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