Every angler out there knows that catching smallmouth bass is bigtime fun. Whether it is early spring or smack dab in the middle of the blazing summer heat, it’s always a blast to go after these hard-fighting fish. Many folks associate bass fishing with ponds, lakes and marshes, but there is nothing like the challenge of catching smallmouth in a healthy river system. Not only does river fishing present new and exciting challenges for bass fisherman, but smallmouth that are caught in clean river water make for great eating.
Part of navigating bass water when it comes to rivers is using the right lure. Depth and water clarity are key to understanding which lure you should utilize. You also need to be aware of which type of response you are attempting to get out of the bass you are going after. Do you want to get reaction strikes, or are you looking to get feeding strikes? These are questions you need to ask yourself when you are actually on the water and in position. But for our money, if you only had two choices for river-running bass lures, these would be the no-nonsense, go-to lip rippers that you need in your tacklebox. Each has a time and a place, but by having both on-hand you will only make those sweet fish tacos all the more attainable.
Used for trout, as well as for salmon in certain parts of the United States, Little Cleo spoons are great for river-dwelling smallmouth. The 1/6 ounce models, when combined with 2 to 4-pound test line get the job done well in most rivers systems. Similar to Mepps Syclops, these spoons are bent which creates a lifelike wiggle when they are being pulled through the water with a semi-aggressive retrieve. Keep in mind that these are easily lost, so have a few on hand.
When it comes to inline spinners, you simply cannot overlook the Blue Fox. That is, unless you enjoy coming home empty handed, while you then attempt to explain to your wife how much fun fishing is. Also a good call for whitewater trout anglers, the Blue Fox is an excellent lure to use on river-running smallies. These lures run size 0 to 6, but a number 2 works great for smallmouth. If you are fishing a river that is larger, or are fishing in muddy water, upgrade to a size 3. Use a fast retrieve and take care to ensure that your hooks are sharp.