Your River High and Dirty? Toss Spinnerbaits for Smallmouth Bass

Posted by  Wednesday, July 02 2014 6:00 am
Published in Blogs > Fishing & Boating > Bass

RiverHighDirty SpinnerbaitsSmallmouth blogAt the risk of sounding whiny as well as redundant, I again must share the fact that western Pennsylvania has been inundated with rain for the past several weeks. The wet weather has provided some additional fishing opportunities, though, as well as the opportunity to revisit productive fishing tactics. In the case of the latter, there is the use of spinnerbaits for river smallmouth bass.

Spinnerbaits provide an easy to locate profile to river smallies when rivers run high and cloudy. Here are a few tips that you should find useful if you are a river rat like me.

Look for Pockets

Within reasonable limits, higher water can play in the angler's favor. Strong main-river flows force bass into quiet, protected pockets along shore and the banks of islands, often making them easier to find.

Aim for Strike Zone

Expect to find bass tucked right up against shore, i.e. within a foot or so. Be extra diligent with your casting, taking the effort to place casts right in the strike zone. Many strikes will occur as soon as the reel is engaged.

Retrieve Effectively

A straight, east to track retrieve is often most effective; in areas where the shoreline breaks into deeper water, say 3-4 feet, allow the bait to helicopter vertically before beginning the retrieve. During some days the majority of the strikes will happen during the drop.

Go With Short-Armed Spinnerbaits

Though my guide clients and I have caught river smallies on a wide variety of spinnerbait style and colors, I have had my most consistent success with a short-armed spinnerbait sporting a Colorado style blade, more specifically Strike King's Midnight Special. The short arm of the lure is well suited for the comparatively smaller mouth of the brown bass. The Colorado style blade provide lots of thumb and vibration, making it easy for a bass to locate. And the dark hued skirt furnishes lots of contrast in the stained water, again upping the chance a big bronzeback will find it.  

Be Patient

Don't be discouraged by a lack of bites. In my experience the action slows during high/dirty river conditions. But the size of the average fish rises, with many smallies in the 15- to 20-inch range taken.


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Jeff Knapp

Jeff Knapp, of Kittanning, Pa., has been covering the outdoors for over 20 years. He's been published in a wide variety of national, regional, state and local publications. He also operates the Keystone Connection Guide Service, which focuses on fishing for smallmouth bass on the Allegheny River, as well as other species in select western Pennsylvania waters. 

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