River Smallmouth Bass Season Underway

News & Tips: River Smallmouth Bass Season Underway

RiverSmallmouthBass JKblogIn my March 19 blog, I reported on how the first major warming period of the spring often provides some of the best fishing of the year for river smallmouth bass, in terms of numbers of quality fish. I also mentioned how I was anxiously anticipating that event, as winter weather refused to relinquish its icy grip. Well, it finally happened last Sunday.

When my fishing partner Dave Keith and I launched my boat early in the afternoon the air temperature was nearly 70 degrees, the water 45 degrees. What a welcome change! The two days prior I'd been walleye fishing on Pymatuning Lake, battling strong north winds much of the time, and air temperatures that failed to break the 40-degree mark. This is what we'd been waiting for.

Warm spring weather, though, is often accompanied by a strong south wind, and this was the case. Thirty mph winds made it impractical to fish my first couple of spots, ones located at northern end of a long, straight stretch. We ran upriver to an area where a bluff bank shielded us from the high winds. Holding the boat a short distance from a quiet shoreline pool protected from the main force of the current, I pitched a 3/16 ounce tube jig. There was a slight tap and then a spongy weight. A sharp hookset later I was connected with 2.5 pounds of river smallmouth bass. The year's first bronzeback proved to be a good omen. Four hours later we'd boated over 30 brown bass, nearly all of them 15 to 19 inches.

Two basic lure categories take early spring river smallies: a bottom bait like a tube jig, bucktail jig or twister tail grub; and a hard jerkbait that dives down to the three to four foot level.

On this day tactics employing both lure choices worked. In the slackwater pools — the places where these fish likely spent the winter — a Bass Pro Shops Tender Tube invoked many bites. Also, a Rapala Husky Jerk and Yo-Zuri Sashimi Jerkbait slowly twitched over low-current rocky flats were effective. The "flats fish" would rise up out of the rocks to crush the jerkbait.  In the clear water the hits were often visible.

Another season underway...I love it!