River Hot Spots

A quick guide to running-water slam dunks.

Bass are hardly pushovers anywhere they live, but those that inhabit rivers pose fewer problems for fishermen. There are only so many places where bass are likely to position themselves in running water, and these locales are much easier to pinpoint and fish with standard bass lures than the myriad possible locales in lakes.

Dams are Cafeterias
The tailwaters of dams (1) are dynamic magnets for all sorts of fish, including bass. Here in the turbulent, oxygenated waters, forage is easy to find and bass patrol the shoreline and offshore humps in schools. Bass close to the bank are hunting, and anglers are wise to drift with the flow and cast crankbaits and spinnerbaits, probing all depths from top to bottom.

If you’re casting from the bank, the fishing can become monotonous. But when a school of bass suddenly appears and sends baitfish skittering across the top toward the bank, it’s an angler’s adrenaline rush.

Bending in and out Outside bends (2) contain the deepest water because the current sweeps them constantly. Keep in mind that below the surface are undercut banks where bass frequently wait to ambush passing prey. Get your casts as close to the shoreline as possible.

Inside bends (3) usually are opposite outside bends and are shallower. Check them for sandbars and narrow flats, isolated cover and swirling eddy water behind rocks.

Islands and Feeders
Fish the headwaters and tailwaters of an island (4), as either end is likely to feature structure such as points with woody cover or other bass magnets.

An oxbow (5) might appear to be a slough or small lake but is actually the remains of a river’s bed before the river altered its course and cut a new stretch. Typically, oxbows are quiet waters that attract bass because seasonal food favorites are present.

Inflowing streams (6) can be important during seasonal changes, depending on whether their water temperature is warmer or cooler than that of the main river. Hit the points with spinnerbaits, crankbaits and topwaters before moving up the creek.

Give ‘Em a Break
Wingdams (7), boulders (8) and fallen trees or debris pileups (9) caught in eddy pockets provide cover and current breaks for river minnows and crayfish. You can bet that bass will stay in the neighborhood, too.