GO Angling: Episode 16 – How to Fish Shallow Rivers for Smallmouth Bass

Go angling - ep 16

In this episode of GO Angling, Gander Outdoors teamed up with InDepth Outdoors to bring you James Holst and Luke Swanson fishing for smallmouth bass on some smaller, shallower areas of the Upper Mississippi River.

Gear Guide: Shallow River Smallmouth Bass

When it comes to gear for smallmouth bass in shallow water, James says using simple quarter ounce swim jigs and a few other jerk baits is really all you’ll need from a lure standpoint. James also says it’s smart focus on a couple different colors. That way if one isn’t working, another might.

As far as what line to use, James says to use a heavier grade line. He suggests the Sufix 832 braided line. No matter what brand you choose, you want it to be in the 20 to 30 pound test grade.

The rods you want to use are pretty wide open. James says any spinning or casting rod will work fine. You should use the one you’re most comfortable with.

How to Fish Shallow Rivers for Smallmouth Bass

James and Luke spend some time on the river casting towards the bank with the boat out in the current. They hook several nice sized smallmouth bass.

James said the best part about fishing on smaller bodies of water like this is that you don’t need a big boat to do it. James and Luke are in a RiverPro Jet Boat, but you can do this kind of fishing on just about any kind of boat—canoe, fishing kayak or even a rowboat with a trolling motor.

James and Luke determined that they had to get the bait moving to really catch the attention of the fish. A quick jerk or twich activates the fish to strike.

Location Breakdown: How to Fish Shallow Rivers for Smallmouth Bass

James discusses the best places to find smallmouth bass once the water warms up to around 75 degrees or higher is just outside of the current in really shallow water. You’re looking for spots that are about two to three feet deep.

The best place to cast your lure is right in the current so it moves by the fish. Find a bend in the river or a place where there’s a spot for the fish to watch the current sweep by and place your presentation right in front of them.

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