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Ive fished my entire life but its all been done in the southern part of Arkansas and the northern part of the states waterways are very different im sure some here know this. Lots of muddy water down south, mainly largemouth fishing are far as bass go atleast that is forsure in my experience.

 

But now in life i have ended up in a totally different fishing environment. I seem to be in one of the best smallmouth areas around seeing thar Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are right out my backdoor basically. Ive floated the Buffalo some mainly for fun, ive fished Crooked some caught a few, a decent 14 or 16 inch fish once but i cant seem to catch on to exactly what they are after, i have found some fish but i havent seem to find large groups of them. Maybe 1 or 2 then the spot goes dry. Mainly advice as to what im looking for is what im seeking with this post, any amount helps i fished yesterday staring at a group of 4 or 5 smallmouth swam several baits right past them and they weren't interested in the slightest. 

 

Im stumped and want to catch more of these beautiful and aggressive fish, thank you for any help

-J

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From my experience, it’s not about what to throw, for river smallmouth, it’s always about where to throw it. It’s always about current. If you are just starting out, the best advise I can give, is to look for moving water and current breaks. For the most part, smallmouth won’t hang out in the fast water unless there is something to break the flow that they can hide behind so they don’t have swim against the current all the time. At the same time, they depend on that current to bring the food to them. During the summer, when oxygen levels get low in warm water, fast bubbling water resupplies oxygen, and the bass will often be found nearby. 

So, look for areas of fast water where there are rocks or wood to disrupt the flow. Get your bait to drift with the flow as close to the slack water formed behind the rocks or wood as you can. Bass will be looking into the current for food to pass by. 

If you are floating between prime sections, look for downed trees along the shoreline, shade lines, and trees that overhang the water. Also, look for water where the water is swirling or disturbed on the surface. It means there are rocks underneath and are good places for smallmouth to find underwater eddies to sit in. 

Slow moving or deep water are lower percentage areas so don’t spend a lot of time fishing them. Do spend more time when you find areas like I described above.

For baits, keep it simple. Topwaters, weightless Senkos, Ned rigs, or spinners will nearly always produce as will many, many other baits. Anything you can get CLOSE and I mean VERY CLOSE to the spots smallies are laying can get bit. If you miss the target by more than a few inches, it can be the difference between zero fish and a day you will never forget. 

These are the things I look for in shallow creeks and rivers. Bass don’t always follow any rules so there will be days when they won’t be where they should be and will be found where you don’t expect. Cover as much water as you can and keep going back to learn the waters you fish. Unlike lake fish, river smallies can be caught shallow all summer long. Good luck!

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On 6/16/2019 at 10:42 AM, Scott F said:

From my experience, it’s not about what to throw, for river smallmouth, it’s always about where to throw it. It’s always about current. If you are just starting out, the best advise I can give, is to look for moving water and current breaks. For the most part, smallmouth won’t hang out in the fast water unless there is something to break the flow that they can hide behind so they don’t have swim against the current all the time. At the same time, they depend on that current to bring the food to them. During the summer, when oxygen levels get low in warm water, fast bubbling water resupplies oxygen, and the bass will often be found nearby. 

So, look for areas of fast water where there are rocks or wood to disrupt the flow. Get your bait to drift with the flow as close to the slack water formed behind the rocks or wood as you can. Bass will be looking into the current for food to pass by. 

If you are floating between prime sections, look for downed trees along the shoreline, shade lines, and trees that overhang the water. Also, look for water where the water is swirling or disturbed on the surface. It means there are rocks underneath and are good places for smallmouth to find underwater eddies to sit in. 

Slow moving or deep water are lower percentage areas so don’t spend a lot of time fishing them. Do spend more time when you find areas like I described above.

For baits, keep it simple. Topwaters, weightless Senkos, Ned rigs, or spinners will nearly always produce as will many, many other baits. Anything you can get CLOSE and I mean VERY CLOSE to the spots smallies are laying can get bit. If you miss the target by more than a few inches, it can be the difference between zero fish and a day you will never forget. 

These are the things I look for in shallow creeks and rivers. Bass don’t always follow any rules so there will be days when they won’t be where they should be and will be found where you don’t expect. Cover as much water as you can and keep going back to learn the waters you fish. Unlike lake fish, river smallies can be caught shallow all summer long. Good luck!

 

This is a really killer crash course on summer smallmouth.  

 

- Pay attention to the flow charts or water levels of the river.  It's really a good idea not just for safety reasons, but it's also important to note that water level and clarity can have a big impact where (specifically) fish will be holding (think about "the spot on the spot" when combined with the way Scott F explained prime lies in his post).

- Don't ever ignore grass or vegetation on a river, ESPECIALLY if it has depth of 2' or more with good current. 

- Smallmouth tend to be active when they can see the best - clear water and bright sunny days, which are generally the opposite of the conditions most favor for largemouth.

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