Smallmouths speak volumes

April 09, 2006|By Bill Anderson

Just about everyone familiar with fishing for river smallmouths knows that the two best periods to catch a real trophy bass are in the spring and late fall-early winter.

During these times, the big female fish move into predictable locations, such as shoreline eddies or holding spots, and position themselves to intercept food that may be brought to them.

For many years, the lure of choice of river experts has been the bucktail jig trailed with a pork rind. The most popular colors were a black jig and pork rind, with brown a close second. This combination has led to the downfall of many trophy smallmouths.

In recent years, plastic lures have really become popular and the plastic tube-type lures seem to be the first choice of fishermen.


Spring smallmouth fishing, like most other fishing, is more about presentation, followed by the lure.

When fishing for cold water smallmouths, the best approach is to position your boat to cast just above the shoreline eddy and let the lure work downstream through the eddy with the current.

The presentation is important because the fish will be facing upstream, like a trout during a fly hatch. They do not expect to see food such as crayfish and minnows coming upstream against the flow of the current.

The weight of your lure is important. The jig needs to be heavy enough to maintain contact with the bottom as you move the lure through the suspected fish- holding area. This means a lift-and-fall retrieve, just fast enough to keep it moving with the current.

Tackle for river smallmouths fishing is very basic.

Most anglers find that a spinning outfit works well for casting light jigs. The strikes in the cold water are often hard to detect, so you will want a sensitive rod to help feel the pickup and set the hook.

So far, this spring has been very different than most because the river levels are unusually low. In fact, some areas have just experienced record low rainfall for the month of March.

The result will be that the typical springtime eddies may be high and dry and that you may have to look out in mid-river to find holding spots behind rock ledges and similar natural obstructions.

Bill Anderson may be contacted via email at

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