Beat The Heat with Small River Smallies
Fishing in rivers for smallmouth in the summer can be tough yet extremely rewarding when you know how to catch them, where to catch them, and what to catch them on. Smallmouth bass can be tricky to figure out, especially if you are targeting the bigger ones in the rivers. I am going to layout some things to keep in mind when targeting bass in these river systems during hot temperature months.
Where to fish?
The first area to focus on in the months of July and August is moving water that ranges from 2-8 feet deep. Many of these smallmouth will suspend or sit in moving water waiting to ambush prey. I like to wade and cast up stream. This allows your bait to float right back to you and avoids your bait easily getting wedged under those rocks. The second area I tend to fish a lot is shade. When the water is at that 80-degree mark, the fish like finding a spot to keep cool. The last area I focus a lot in is isolated rock or wood. This isolated rock and wood gives the fish a cooler area to hang out and they are protected more by the structure.
What to Throw?
The two main baits I like to throw in moving water are a wacky rig and a Missile Baits Micro Jig. These two baits give the bass that are waiting in those streams a totally different look. The wacky rig floats in the middle of the water column and acts as an easy snack for those smallmouth that are suspending, waiting on their next meal. My river wacky rig of choice is a Gary Yamamoto 4” Senko and a Missile Baits 48. When throwing the 4” Senko, I use more natural colors like Green Pumpkin, Cinnamon Brown, or Watermelon Red Magic. When I am throwing the Missile Baits 48, I like to use Goby Bite, Fisholicious, and Straight Black. With the Micro Jig, I use either a 1/16oz. or a 1/8oz. depending on the depth. The colors I stick with when throwing the small finesse jig are Green Pumpkin or Straight Black. Any color will work but you cannot go wrong with these two. For my Micro Jig trailers, I use a Missile Baits Ned Bomb, Drop Craw, or a Gulp minnow.
When fishing shade and isolated rock/wood, my go to is a ned rig. I typically use a lighter Ned head like in the 1/16-ounce range. I like to keep the colors pretty natural. I have found the most success in these Ned Bomb colors: Fisholicious, Green Pumpkin, PB&J, Golden Shiner Core, Hillbilly Magic, Bluetonium Green Pumpkin Core, and Bamer Craw. I have caught a ton of smallmouth on many other colors, but these seem to be the colors that are most consistent for me.
Big Roamers that won’t seem to bite?
If you have done some river fishing before, you know one of the most frustrating things is seeing those big, roaming smallmouth that don’t seem to bite anything! It took me the longest time to try and figure out how to make these guys bite. Still to this day I will go out there and sometimes not get these bigs to eat, but I have had the most success catching these ones by simply matching the hatch. Figure out what type of prey these smallmouth are feeding on. For me, I fish the Roanoke River and James River a lot and the main sources of food for these smallmouth are crawfish, minnows, and hellgrammites. The baits that seem to match up best with crawfish are the Missile Baits Craw Father and the Tackle HD Hi-Def Craw. I stick with Desert Storm and Green Pumpkin for the Craw Father and Golden Craw for the Tackle HD bait. For matching minnows, throwing the Bomb Shot in Fisholicious either on a Ned head or a drop shot is hands down the best combo. Lastly, for matching hellgrammites, the Tackle HD Hellgrammite is about the only way to go.Grab your bathing suit and a couple of spinning rods and go give these tips a shot. I have been fishing these rivers ever since I was a kid and this is what works for me the best. The fishing can be tough in the dead of the summer, but you will catch some nice smallmouth if you remember what you just read.