A number of factors affect those spots. Key factors include water temperature, river level and current.
In a typical spring pattern, the river will be running at a fairly high level. This means the bass will be found in the shoreline eddy areas to avoid the heaviest current flows. The key is to identify are the eddy areas, because they put the bass in position to feed.
Good eddy areas created by both natural and manmade diversions like islands, bends in the river, wing dams or any other natural or manmade obstruction that breaks up the main river current.
River anglers often say they are fishing the breakwaters or edges. This is where the main currents in the river meet with the edge of an eddy area. This transition area is a key, because this is where you will find the bigger river smallmouths because they are waiting for the current to move food into their areas.
Most fishermen prefer to use jigs when fishing the eddy areas. There are many good reasons why a jig is the best lure, but it's mostly a matter of presentation. The jig is cast to the upstream area above the eddy and worked slowly downstream through the holding water. It's also true that bass are feeding on crayfish during this season and a jig bouncing downstream with the current apparently imitates what the fish are looking for and expecting to find.
Most area smallmouth fishermen are now using plastic tube baits of some type. Other types of plastic jigs include plastic grubs and skirted plastic jigs. For many years, the bucktail jig and porkrind was the smallmouth standard rig in this area and they still work well. Some oldtimers still swear by marabou jigs - particularly when the water is very cold. Marabou provides a very specific presentation and it still works.
Water temperature is always a key factor in the early spring. It is not unusual to get a few days of very cold weather, even snow and ice, during March. A blast of cold water can shut the fishing down for a few days.
By contrast, a warm rain can put the fish on the feed. But as of now, we are entering into one of the prime time periods and the river smallmouths are biting in waters throughout the region.
Bill Anderson may be contacted via email at email@example.com