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River Bass Fishing 101 – Our Guide

Mark Armstrong
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Fishing in rivers for bass can be a little different if you’re used to fishing for them in lakes or reservoirs. For one thing, there can be additional current to contend with that you might not have in a lake.

But are the tactics any different when it comes to catching river bass? We’ll take a look at where you might find them and what you might need to improve your chances of catching them.

River Bass Fishing 101 – Our GuidePin

Ok, We’re At The River. How Do We Find Bass?


Just like in lakes and reservoirs, river bass will also tend to look for structure to provide shelter. Rivers can often have a wider range of structure available, with various logs and debris getting swept along and hung up on bends or rocks.

These areas can be good spots to target, as the change in underwater landscape can be attractive to bass.

Bass will also often be attracted to areas where there are overhanging trees or vegetation, as these can be useful for providing cover and protection.

Areas where there is a change in depth or a change in current can also be favorable for finding bass. These areas can include sandbars or points, as well as backwaters just off the main river channel.

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Bass can be found in a range of rivers, from large, wide rivers to small streams. But for the most part you won’t find them constantly fighting strong current.

While smallmouth bass may be able to tolerate stronger current, largemouth bass will generally be found in areas where the current is slower, such as in the pools behind rocks.

Smallmouth bass can also be found in these pools or eddies. Bass tend to use these pools as a place to wait for food to be swept along by the passing current. When you find these spots, consider the current when it comes to casting your lure, so that your lure will be moving with the current, like natural prey would.

You might find these pool areas are also attractive to striped bass as they make their way up the river, as they will often use the minimal current to rest and wait for prey.

Types Of Bass

The types of bass you will find in a river will usually depend on your location. But common types of bass that are found in rivers tend to be largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and striped bass.

Striped bass are found on the Atlantic coast and are generally a saltwater species. But they will often migrate into rivers to spawn and can even be found several miles upstream from the coast, as well as in some lakes.

When’s A Good Time To Hit The Rivers?

Just like in other bodies of water, the prespawn in spring can be a good time to catch bass, as this is when they are likely to be actively feeding ahead of the spawn when they tend not to feed at all.

Bass will usually make their way from deeper water into shallower zones in order to build their nests and lay their eggs. In rivers, these spawning areas will often be out of direct current, for example behind rocks or in shallow backwater areas and can often be where the water is clearest.

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Video: Where Do Bass Spawn In Rivers

Summer and fall can also be lucrative times to fish for bass in rivers. Areas where there is vegetation will usually mean there are bass nearby. In the fall, logs and other submerged wood, as well as rocks can be excellent spots for bass to hide as they transition to their deeper wintering areas.

What Gear Do I Need To Get Going?

Soft Plastics

Soft plastics, such as crawfish or worms, can work well in rivers, especially when Texas rigged. These can be thrown into the pools or eddies and fished along the bottom. You might want to slow down your presentation when fishing these soft plastics to give your lure time to cover the pool and any hidden underwater structure.

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Crawfish lures can also be useful as a jig trailer.


Crankbaits can be a good option to use in spring and fall and can be ideal for targeting striped bass as well as largemouth and smallmouth bass. These can be used around logs and submerged structure.

It can be a good idea to opt for noisier crankbaits to attract attention in noisy current. While you might prefer a fast retrieve reel with largemouth and smallmouth bass, if you’re fishing for striped bass you may want to slow it down a little with a reel in a more medium speed.

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Spinnerbaits can be great lures to use in rivers, especially when the water is muddy. Try to match the size and color of the spinnerbait to whatever food the bass are eating but you may want to increase the size of your spinnerbait if you’re fishing during the summer and fall.

Good colors to use can often be red, which can be ideal during spring; chartreuse, which can work well in the summer; and white which may work better during the fall.

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Depending on the level of current, a lightweight jig might be a better option so that it is able to move with the current.

These can be fished in and around eddies and submerged structure that might be holding bass. Remember to fish on both sides of whatever is causing the break in the current, as sometimes you might find bass on the upstream side of the structure.

Adding a trailer, such as a soft plastic creature lure, can be helpful if you want to increase the profile of your jig and encourage a reaction strike.

Topwater Lures

In the summer and whenever you notice bass feeding at the surface, a topwater lure can be the ideal choice. These can be used around vegetation and close to the banks, where bass might naturally be feeding on topwater prey.

In Conclusion

When you’re fishing for in rivers there can be other things to consider that you might not think about when you fish in other bodies of water. The current can play an important role and when you know how to use the current to your advantage, you should be able to catch bass.

Remember to target areas around structure where the current is weaker and use the current to help sweep your lure along to mimic natural prey.

Have you had any luck catching river bass? Let us know your go-to lure then share this to help out your fellow anglers.

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