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River guys - do you typically try to cast everywhere or do you only target specific areas; ie current breaks, structure, shade etc?


Ohioguy25

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If everywhere, how exactly do you cover an entire river?  Since I discovered the effectiveness of finesse I have learned that there doesn’t really seem to be any rhyme or reason to smallmouth behavior and where they might be at any given point.
 

I definitely focus more on those key areas but to be perfectly honest I’ve caught very nice fish in areas I never would have cast, which opened my eyes not only to how many fish I’d been missing, but to how little rhyme or reason there really was to it all.  

I suppose it makes it more difficult that the entire riverbed is lined with rock, so even the muddiest banks are potentially holding fish.  I have found myself tirelessly casting trying to cover every square inch of water now, and it’s become more of a chore than a hobby at this point.  Am I wasting my time shooting in the dark, would GPS help?
 

The only consistent variable seems to be depth.  I typically find the biggest fish in 4-10’ of water, slower moving areas with rock and vegetation. What is your experience, any pointers?

 

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Depends on the size of the river and bait im using. Bigger rivers in order to be efficient you have to play the odds and target the most prime areas. Riffles, seams chunk rock points, deep transitions, ledges. Streams im more likely to work everything. However im more likely to use a faster paced search bait to start. Prime spots is where im more willing to fish slower presentations before the fish have told me where they are. Alot of this comes with learning the body of water as well. Once you get to know the hot spots i target them first.

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While I agree they can be anywhere I also contend that there is always a reason they are where they are given conditions.  Problem is the conditions on rivers change so much and can be drastic that putting that puzzle together is always tricky.  

 

I pick apart the best areas or at least the areas I think are the best based on my experience.  Finesse fishing isn't made to cover water so that would drive me crazy but on the flip side it can allow you to cover and learn a specific stretch of river very well.  My last trip out was on a river I never fished before and I was told the fish were holding on the edges of grass adjacent to clean water aka no grass.  I did catch a couple that way but it wasn't enough for me.  I then started fishing the deeper runs really slow and started picking up more action and better fish.  I tried this same pattern other places and sure enough, it held for the majority of the day.  If i went out the next day I would have definitely tried the deeper runs behind major current breaks again for sure and if that wasn't producing i would move on to something else.  

 

I think the key in river fishing is to never get stuck on one particular pattern until you figure it out for the day.  

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This river here only bank fishing allowed. I fish the wing wall, I throw like a curve cast and can get my lure pretty far around the bend. Then i fish the the center of the main flow, then cast to the other bank and reel back to me fancasting.

Then i walk down a bit and cast across using everything in my arsenal that i got an itch to use that day and work it back, fancasting. Then i cast paralell with the bank down stream and back. walk a bit more and repeat.

 

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I will target specific spots but I also hit the surrounding area. If I'm fishing an eddy or the back side of a boulder I don't limit my casts to just the prime spot. I'll make multiple casts to the prime spot and then I will fan cast open water all around that prime spot. When the fish are neutral they will hold in an eddy or current break. When they are active they will often be searching for prey around the spot they will hold in. On the Susquehanna River there is a place where there is a riffle leading into a deep pool. Adjacent to that are two small islands, one in front of the other. Those islands are roughly 40' apart and they create a nice slack water spot. I will fish the riffle, the pool and then the slack water first. After that instead of going to the next spot I'll fish the main flow that leads to those spots. I often intercept fish that are leaving or coming into those areas. So while I don't fish just everywhere, I do fish a lot of "nothing" type water around a prime location.

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On 8/28/2022 at 6:12 AM, smalljaw67 said:

I will target specific spots but I also hit the surrounding area. If I'm fishing an eddy or the back side of a boulder I don't limit my casts to just the prime spot. I'll make multiple casts to the prime spot and then I will fan cast open water all around that prime spot. When the fish are neutral they will hold in an eddy or current break. When they are active they will often be searching for prey around the spot they will hold in. On the Susquehanna River there is a place where there is a riffle leading into a deep pool. Adjacent to that are two small islands, one in front of the other. Those islands are roughly 40' apart and they create a nice slack water spot. I will fish the riffle, the pool and then the slack water first. After that instead of going to the next spot I'll fish the main flow that leads to those spots. I often intercept fish that are leaving or coming into those areas. So while I don't fish just everywhere, I do fish a lot of "nothing" type water around a prime location.

Heard the Suskie has some tanks

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On 8/27/2022 at 2:05 PM, roadwarrior said:

I drift both sides of the Tennessee River and the channel. They can be anywhere!

When you drift, do you repeatedly cast or do you cast once and drag your bait as you drift?

thanks

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I have a few spots that I want to target at first. Than I’m likely to drift fish a section(s). I might get luck and they are at all places I try to cover. 

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I’m concentrating on higher percentage spots and spending time there. I may not slow down much, but I’m casting at ANY and every likely spot while I’m wading and floating to the next prime spot. 

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I bank fish exclusively, and mostly fish rivers. I have my go to spots in the places I regularly fish, and it's usually breaks, eddies, structure, open holes in weedbeds, under bridges, etc. These are all the spots I've found I have the most success on my river.

 

There's one spot I love to target with top water where the river takes a sharp bend and forms a large, slow moving pool. There's a decent hole there and the smallies seem to congregate there. On a good day I'll pull between five and ten fish from that one spot. But sometimes they just aren't there.

 

But of course, you find them anywhere sometimes.  Once caught one on a crank bait I let float down the middle of the river while I was trying to untangle a snarl in my line. 

 

But usually I target the traditional "fish holders" before I try fishing open water. 

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On 8/29/2022 at 6:09 PM, Scott F said:

I’m concentrating on higher percentage spots and spending time there. I may not slow down much, but I’m casting at ANY and every likely spot while I’m wading and floating to the next prime spot. 

What would you consider prime spots, how deep and fast?

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40 minutes ago, Ohioguy25 said:

What would you consider prime spots, how deep and fast?

Depends on the river, and time of year. The rivers I fish are mostly shallow, with few spots that get as deep as 10 feet. Prime spots are riffles with rocks and faster water, and the head and tail ends of pools near the riffles, eddies with faster water running by, big boulders or downed wood. Weed lines can also be prime spots.  Straight, slow, deep water with little cover are what I fish quickly while drifting by. I’ll cast toward the shorelines in spots like those. You can pick up a fish here and there. You never know if a log or rock is hiding there that can hold a fish. 

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1 hour ago, Scott F said:

Depends on the river, and time of year. The rivers I fish are mostly shallow, with few spots that get as deep as 10 feet. Prime spots are riffles with rocks and faster water, and the head and tail ends of pools near the riffles, eddies with faster water running by, big boulders or downed wood. Weed lines can also be prime spots.  Straight, slow, deep water with little cover are what I fish quickly while drifting by. I’ll cast toward the shorelines in spots like those. You can pick up a fish here and there. You never know if a log or rock is hiding there that can hold a fish. 

Yeah, my river is slightly larger, around 75-100 yards wide with average depths of 4-6 feet.  It fishes more like a lacustrine environment than a creek/river in many stretches with deep, slow pools to pick apart, some 20-30 feet deep. Obviously those don’t hold bass but they’re nearby and finding them isn’t always quite as simple as targeting structure and current breaks.
 

I’ve learned quite a bit since I first started fishing, most of the fish I catch have current nearby. However, most of the bigger fish come from slower parts of the run in deep (4-10’) holes. I’m not sure if this is normal in a river this size, but it’s what my experience has been.

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Current seems to be the most important factor on the river I fish in midsummer for brown bass.  There has to be some current nearby.  Slack water areas or places with minimal current are almost completely void of fish.  I bypass these areas as fast as I can.

 

The absolute best areas seem to be near current, some depth, and shade of some kind if the sun is out.

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I target all the usual spots - current seams / breaks, any visible structure.  If I don't pick up a fish I'll fan some casts out in the general area.  I've picked up some big fish just hanging out in the middle of nowhere.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm with RW on this one. I just drift each side of the Mohawk. The good thing about the Mohawk is it has locks, so it's a fairly safe bet that you'll catch fish just down current from the lock and it will gradually taper off from there.

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On 9/1/2022 at 2:38 PM, gimruis said:

Current seems to be the most important factor on the river I fish in midsummer for brown bass. 

No, it's not restricted to summer, it's the main component year-around.

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11 minutes ago, roadwarrior said:

No, it's not restricted to summer, it's the main component year-around.

I agree.  But I don't fish rivers other than in midsummer so I was specifically referring to my experience.  When I'm fishing in a river, the water temperature is at its peak for the year.  Warm water holds less oxygen than colder water, so the fact that stagnant or areas of minimal current have little or no oxygen would likely play a role in why there is no fish there either.

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The larger rivers I fish have four main bank compositions that I identify.

First is the shallow mud bank with blowdowns. This is mostly dead water for me. I never seem to be able to find fish.

Second is the man-made rip rap banks with deeper water. These areas produce better than mud/wood but still not my favorite.

Third is the natural larger chunk rock. Now the fishing tends to get better when the rock is over deeper water. Not so much when it is shallow.

Last is my favorite. Bluff walls with current and water at least 4ft and deeper. This is where I go to drift fish and where in my experience the nicer fish hang out. Chris Catignani and I found a bluff wall area on the Cumberland that had large schools of Shad. The bass were trapping the shad against the bluff wall and we were able to hook quite a few. After we drifted past the schools we would motor back up and drift again.

 

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1 hour ago, Blue Raider Bob said:

The larger rivers I fish have four main bank compositions that I identify.

First is the shallow mud bank with blowdowns. This is mostly dead water for me. I never seem to be able to find fish.

Second is the man-made rip rap banks with deeper water. These areas produce better than mud/wood but still not my favorite.

Third is the natural larger chunk rock. Now the fishing tends to get better when the rock is over deeper water. Not so much when it is shallow.

Last is my favorite. Bluff walls with current and water at least 4ft and deeper. This is where I go to drift fish and where in my experience the nicer fish hang out. Chris Catignani and I found a bluff wall area on the Cumberland that had large schools of Shad. The bass were trapping the shad against the bluff wall and we were able to hook quite a few. After we drifted past the schools we would motor back up and drift again.

 

Pull a buzzbait thru those laydown on number 1 

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