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Bends/Geography in River and Terms


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  • Super User

Hey ya'll,

 

First off would like to say that reading posts in this smallmouth forum has been immensely educational for me in a short time. So thank you for all who participate here. I really have enjoyed the little bit of river smallmouth fishing that I've done here in Missouri and see myself doing it more. 

 

So, I've seen a lot of posts about current eddy's, seams, breaks, and I've been trying to familiarize myself with them. My first question is what terms regarding current should I be familiar with when river smallmouth fishing? So eddy, seam, break... what else? 

 

And how much attention do you pay to the actual path of the river or overall geography when selecting spots? Are current bends or other directional changes valuable to you? What about the presence of springs or creeks that flow in? Better, what is most important to you when selecting a spot? I am limited to bank fishing at the moment so I've been checking out some spots. 

 

I talked to a local recently and they told me that the best stretches of the river I fish for smallmouth possess deeper water and nearby springs to cool the water. Sort of corroborates other stuff I've heard. But want to hear what is valuable to you when selecting a place to fish and what terms I should know. Thank you!

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I don’t really pay attention to any of it, I think it’s regional. You could spend all day reading water and fishing current breaks in fast water, but some days they just ain’t there. Some days they are deep, some days they are shallow. Some days they are deep at 8 am and shallow at noon, then back deep by supper time.  They don’t follow rules (at least where I go) 

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Check out Tim Holschlag and the books he's written on stream and river fishing. You'll get a lifetime's worth of information. Also check out Jeff Little and stuff he's written or filmed.

 

With that said smallies (in rivers/streams) like to be near current but not necessarily in it unless it's slow enough so that that they don't have to expend much energy to hold. Your typical river goes riffle, hole, run. These areas are easily identified on small streams. I like to look at the riffle, hole, run as a pool. Fish will use different areas of the pool based on current, cover etc. Throw a couple laydowns on an outside bend of a pool along with some boulders throughout the pool, shoreline areas for the fish to get out of the current during high water and you got yourself a nice little spot.

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     Most holes start at what is called the head of the hole, which is located where a riffle or run dump into a hole.  The head of the hole is a prime feeding area, and usually includes areas of fast water with, eddies, and current seems all in a small area.  Their will be feeding and resting bass in the head of most holes, as long as the river isn't to high and current to strong.

     The middle of the hole will be deeper with slower current, and will hold feeding and resting bass.  The middle of the whole may also have boulders and other structure that will attract both resting and feeding bass.

      The tail out is at the end of the hole and prime feeding lanes where the current picks up and is funneled into the next riffle or run.  The tail out is a prime feeding area, with too much current to be good for resting.  A bass in the tail out will be very aggressive, and is a good place to start fishing a hole.  Rocks or logs can create eddies in tail outs making for ideal ambush spots, and if bit enough will also hold resting bass.  If the water is clear you can observe bass moving in to a tail out simply by tossing a can full of night crawlers or crawdads, in to the middle of a hole.  Bass will instantly leave the deeper water and position themselves in the best feeding lanes of the tail out.  It may be illegal to do this and then fish, depending on the regulations dealing with chumming in your area.  It is a learning experience to do even if you can't fish for the bass after they position themselves.  A large insect hatch will position the best bass in the tail out as long as it is deep enough for them to feel safe.  

     Not all places on a river will have the classic riffle hole make up, and can be a combination of holes, large slow runs, sections with virtually no current, areas with swift water containing no current breaks, and large rapids with with eddies that are too turbulent to hold bass.

     Banks also can provide current breaks, and feeding lanes.  Undercut banks on outside bends are prime feeding and resting areas over looked by many anglers.  An angler may literally walk right over the top of the best bass in the whole river, while walking on an undercut bank.

     Smaller streams can be thoroughly fished with inline spinners, 1/4 oz hair jigs or grubs, and floating Rapala's.  Drifting a night crawler through all likely looking spots will teach you where the fish hold quickly.  You will also catch many un targeted species, but it will teach you how fish relate to current.

     Large rivers are more difficult to read, and the bass may act more like they do in lakes if the river is big enough.  They will still relate to current, but not in the easy to recognize locations where they are at in small streams.

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Agree 150% with everything above ^^ except the swift water and large rapids. If there are rocks, depressions or any sort of cover or structure fish will be there. Especially rapids in lower warmer water. That fast water will be the coolest and most oxygenated.

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For me, current is kind followed by cover. There are just certain things that hold smallies period. Not every day but over the coarse of a season you will catch more fish by focusing on certain features. I like multiple factor spots. A current seem next to deep water over chunk rock. A rock point that forms an eddie, a fast riffle with some depth and boulders for fish to lurk behind. If it seems like a place bass can ambush from you should move it up on your target list.

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On 8/23/2022 at 12:01 PM, king fisher said:

      

     Large rivers are more difficult to read, and the bass may act more like they do in lakes if the river is big enough.  They will still relate to current, but not in the easy to recognize locations where they are at in small streams.

I will add that depending on how the river is dammed, and how much water there is, there can sometimes be very little current. Less current, and the fish will wander more and behave more or less like lake fish. However a change in the current will set them back up on more predictable spots, like a strong moon outgoing tide, or sudden rain filling the tributaries.  

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  • Super User

The river sections I fish is basically suburban. I’ve fished some of the urban sections also. Smallies are there. 
 

I don’t overlook anything. Creeks that flow in with a typical creek mouth, creeks that flow in and create points w/ quick deep drop offs, concrete and steel storm drain pipes, old locks (destroyed stuff), stone banks, lay downs, concrete slabs that I don’t know what they are from (railroad ?), foundations and boat docks.  
 

But as TnRiv said they vary from day to day or week. The larger smallies are very nomadic. I say not so much with the dinks or runts. They seem to be more like homebodies to an area. 
 

There is nothing wrong with knowing the river like the back of your hand. It’s a big part of success. And safety also. When I first set out in a morning I don’t put faster water first. I just run with more of an intuition. I’ve caught some nice smallies in lower flow areas. Pick a spot and go with it.  Change up as necessary. 
 

On this site a read many different statements about fishing for bigger fish or just fishing or bigger fish won’t be there. Wherever I start on the river, whatever I’m throwing from first cast till last I’m fishing for respectable smallies. They can be there at any given time. 

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River bends are not only a thing with SM bass. LM bass love them too.  We don't have many natural rivers here in Florida.  The ones we have have been channelized or artificially altered into canals.  The exceptions are parts of the St. Johns.  When I first started fishing it years ago, I had no clue where to start.   I eventually found fish in the river bends.  Current digs out the banks in these bends making them deeper and sunken tree limbs accumulate along the shoreline.  Bass hide just out of the current and wait for food to flow by.  The best way to target them is to position your boat directly on the bank and cast upstream.  I like to use a spinnerbait, but have had success with a Texas rigged worm bumping along the bottom.  Where's there's current, you will find bass. 

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I am always looking for the Spot on the Spot.

 

Yes, it's the deep pool next to a seam after a long set of rapids with foam cover and full sun during the full moon. 

It's the huge boulders lining a dropoff at the deepest channel that's holding the biggest smallie because this spot is the Spot on the Spot.

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  • Super User
39 minutes ago, PaulVE64 said:

I am always looking for the Spot on the Spot.

Same way I started to approach Largemouth fishing short while ago! The trouble is that I still ain’t good at finding that spot ?

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