Bass fishing streams offer the angler a change of pace, a challenge, and can result in great fights with big fish.
With the rise in kayak fishing, streams are becoming more and more favored as places to fish for a variety of species. However, bass fishing is still one of the most fun.
The only problem is that many people fish streams the same way they fish lakes and reservoirs. While there are a few instances that this can work, stream fishing is largely a different style with different strategies.
Check out these tried and true methods then grab a canoe or kayak and hit a stream near you.
Much like still-water bass, stream bass enjoy shoreline features, bottom contours and cover, such as weed. Fish these areas, but keep in mind one important factor...the current.
2. Calm Waters
Bass of all kinds, especially largemouth, like to avoid the strongest areas of current flow. Look for fish resting in scooped-out depressions along the stream bed in more shallow water.
Bass tend to face the upstream direction. Allowing your bait to float past them, as they rest behind mid-stream rocks, will tempt them into darting quickly into the current to eat.
4. Water Levels
Bass living in streams are very sensitive to changing water levels. During higher water levels, fish near shore where the water is over the bank. Fish like to feed on insects, worms, etc that are normally not available to them.
5. Calm Pools
Water levels dropping too quickly can severely hamper angling. If you still want to fish, be sure to find calm pools near the terminus of a tributary.
6. Fish in streams are more active.
Fish living in streams generally have a different appearance from the more sedentary cousin in lakes. They continuously burn energy trying to maintain their position in the water. Thus, their bodies are more streamlined and well-toned. It also means that a smaller fish can give you a good fight.
7. Variable Features
The same features in a small stream and a large river are not necessarily similar in prime bass habitat. Bends in smaller streams are bass magnets. Bends in larger rivers (i.e. Ohio, Mississippi, etc) may run for more than a mile and never truly give the same types of refuge as a bend in a smaller stream.
8. Spawning Season
During spawning season in the spring and early summer, look for bass in tributaries that are more sedentary.
9. Rock Walls
On small streams, look for bass near the base of rock walls. Especially if there is a shelf that drops off again.
Look for bass at the points of tributaries as they empty into the main river.
11. Shoreline Shelves
In large, deep rivers, look for shoreline shelves where the water is less than six feet with a moderate current. In these areas, concentrate on using spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic worms for largemouths and spotted bass. If fishing for smallmouth, try using crayfish, jigs or crankbaits that look like crayfish and smaller bait fish.
12. When to use jigs and spoons.
In large, deep rivers with a swift current consider using heavier jigs or spoons. This will allow the lure to sink quicker and not get carried away out of position.
13. Live Baits
If the current is slow to moderate, consider using a live bait minnow with a sinker. You can use a crappie rigged drop to fish mid-stream features while drifting over them.
(How to make a crappie rigged drop line: Drop you sinker off the base of the line, have an extra, unweighted runner tied into your swivel about six to eight inches above the sinker).
14. Cooler Waters
Smallmouth bass like cooler waters than their cousins and prefer a three percent gradient. Look for mountain streams or streams that are spring-fed. Numerous smaller streams are prime locations for smallmouths.
15. Mimic Baits
Try to mimic the primary food sources of your quarry. Bass in smaller streams tend to feed on crickets, crayfish, grasshoppers, locust, and other such sources. Use lures that are similar in color and action to these (olive, black and brown colors are great choices).
Here are some bonus tips for the eager angler.
- For smallmouths in streams with a moderate current, try a live crayfish. Toss the crayfish near the base of rocks (larger ones) that have a current running around it. The crayfish will generally try to retreat underneath and will become dinner for a smallmouth.
- Casting upstream and allowing a downstream float will appear more natural.
- Eroded banks with large root systems jutting out are prime locations for bass in the early summer months.
Super Bonus Tip: Forget all of the tips and be sure to have FUN. That's the most important thing when it comes to fishing.