The smallmouth bass is a fish species that is prevalent throughout much of the United States and can be fished for in various types of water, but one of the most enjoyable ways to catch these beautiful fish is while fishing in rivers. Specifically in small to medium sized rivers that can be waded. In many areas smallmouth bass can be fished for and caught in much the same way that trout are and it can be as enjoyable an experience as can be had while fishing.
In this article I will draw upon my twenty plus years of river fishing experience to outline how to catch smallmouth bass in rivers. The first thing that we want to focus on is the size of the gear (specifically your rod, reel, and fishing line) that is being used. The rod and reel that you use when fishing for smallmouth bass in rivers should be ultra light action and your reel should be spooled with either four or six pound test fishing line. The length of your rod should be from four to seven and a half feet depending on the current flow, depth, and width of the specific river that you are fishing.
Now that we have your gear out of the way, it’s time to focus on some techniques that should be employed. The first technique involves fishing small top water lures along current breaks and slow moving pools and runs throughout the river. Small top water lures such as a 2 1/2 inch Lucky Craft G-splash or a 3 inch Cotton Cordell Crazy Shad can be real home runs when you are river fishing for bronze backs. Many anglers make the mistake of overlooking top water lures when river fishing, make sure that you aren’t one of these anglers.
The next technique is known as drift fishing and once mastered could easily become your “go to” smallmouth bass technique. Drift fishing involves casting a smallmouth lure, jig, artificial fly, or live bait parallel to where you are standing in the river and allowing your bait to drift naturally with the current as the bait is swept downstream. With artificial flies and a majority of smallmouth lures the goal is to have the bait flow right above the bottom of the river and with live bait and jigs the goal is to have the bait “bounce” along the bottom as it flows. The point is that drift fishing needs to be learned if you want to know how to catch smallmouth bass in rivers.
If you have never had the pleasure of experiencing catching a smallmouth on light gear and line while fishing in the flowing water of a small to medium sized river, do yourself a favor and give it a shot sooner rather than later. It can be as much fun as can be had with your clothes on.