Catch River Smallmouth Bass In Low, Hot
By Ken Penrod
A well dressed angler will always wear polarized sun glasses and
have your line-cutter on a lanyartd around your neck.
We live in a
river-rich region, actually, we live in a tremendous region for
outdoor activities, but it’s pretty hard to beat feisty
smallmouth bass for summer fun and family activity. The nice
thing about those river bass is their willingness to cooperate
and there is none among us that would discredit their battle
worthiness. I’ve always claimed that if you tied a five-pound
smallmouth to the tail of a five-pound largemouth it would be
like hooking a moped to a Ford F-150.
opportunities to fish summer months are best for most folks
because the kids are out of school and the weather suits most
best. I’ll be first to tell you that catching big bass from
shallow, hot water is not a given but it’s not an impossible
mission either. While I prefer to fish from a boat, that’s not
so important when the water temperature is nearly 80-degrees and
the rivers are very low.
you some ideas at the end of this story but there are a few
things to keep in mind that will make your day successful. I
think it’s important to begin your day when the sun does. I like
to be on the water by 5:30 AM—but wait, there is an alternative.
You can launch or wade at the other 5:30 and fish until
bass fishing is quite simple, even more so when summer
conditions dictate. You will want to acquire a six-foot (give or
take) medium action graphite rod. I like Gator Rods. You will
want a fast-retrieve spinning reel. (I like Daiwa.) Please spool
six or eight pound test monofilament on the reel, green, and
fill that spool to within 1/8th of an inch from the
top rim (I like Sufix ProMix.)
chances by wearing polarized sun glasses, a must, and I like
Costa. Wear a fingernail clipper, on a lanyard, around your neck
and carry a Leatherman tool on your belt. This information alone
is a big step in the right direction.
As far as
artificial lures goes, please believe me when I say the best
include: Mizmo or Campground Special tubes, the “teaser or Small
Jaws” size attached to RAB, 1/8th ounce jig heads
(Penrod Purple, green pumpkin, KP Rose and KP V8); Penrod
Special spinnerbaits (1/4 ounce); Case Magic Stiks attached to
3/0 VMC hooks (green pumpkin/gold); ¼ ounce Obi Hardhook
buzzbaits (white) and Rapala DT-04 crankbaits (crawfish
important to know what river and weather conditions you may
encounter on any adventure so go to our website (www.penrodsguides.com
) and obtain all of that information from our home page,
for summer fishing conditions include aquatic hatches that
generally occur in the early or late hours of a day. All that
means to you is that bass are outside of hard habitat, eating
bugs and in an aggressive mood. You will see very small water
dimples as they slurp flies and you have targets to cast to.
You can find
bass in very shallow water during low light conditions, usually
near grass beds, rock shores and push water at ledges. Remember
this; eliminate water during the day in areas where you can see
bottom easily. I look for areas where the bottom is “blurred”
through polarized glasses and it’s important to find those areas
where chunk-rock and submersed ledges dominate the underwater.
Simply “blow-off” other water. Don’t spend time in fishless
Summer fishing for river smallmouth bass need not include a
boat--so get your knees wet and do it early or late in the day.
There is no
better smallmouth lure than the plastic tube and we recommend
the 2.75-inch or the 3.5-inch models. I stress Mizmo or
Campground Special brands because they are best by far. The tube
should be carefully tied to an RAB jig head with a Palomar knot.
It’s important to keep a low profile, in a boat or out, because
if you can see a fish—she can see you. I always ask my clients
to sit down in a boat. If you are wet-wading, you have an
slightly upstream and understand what the current will do to
your offering. Do not cast to the “spot” that you believe a fish
lives. Allow the current to deliver your offering. River bass
prefer some current this time of year because eddies hold low
oxygen water and that’s not good. Look for current seams where
moving water meets still water. That’s a kill zone.
important to keep a taunt line between your rod tip and the
lure—but not so taunt that you keep the offering off of the
bottom. Your rod tip should be fairly high and we move the tube
along the bottom, but just four inches at a time. We must pause
between moves, and we never allow slack line to lay on the
surface. If the current is moving your bait along the bottom,
that’s just fine. Don’t “help” it.
hard strikes because a bass simply slurps your tube. When you do
feel that little “tic,” drop your rod tip so the fish doesn’t
feel you. Now, wind line on your reel until you actually feel
the fish swimming. When you strike her, do it with vengeance,
directly over your shoulder, and keep a bow in your rod until
you lip-her, or net her.
The Magic Stik, the
four-inch size, should be rigged
style, but Wacky-rig is effective also. I like a 3/0 VMC hook
for the Texas delivery and a #1
VMC circle hook for a Wacky presentation. Case manufacturers a
“Wacky-O” tool that allows you to place an O-ring on the worm
and place the hook under the ring. My preference is the one the
bass like that day. This bait is a virtual do-nothing delivery.
Cast slightly upstream, in slow to moderate current, take up
slack line and allow it to reach the bottom. Lift the lure with
your rod tip and the current and gravity does the rest. Strikes
are difficult to detect but watch your line where it enters the
water. Again, when you know a bass has your offering, drop the
tip of your rod and wind line on the reel as fast as you can.
Strike her with authority and keep that rod bowed.
that hot water is quite low in dissolved oxygen so don’t
overplay a fish. Photographs are important to all of us so keep
her in the water until you are ready for the “click.” A bass can
hold her breath about as long as you can.
low light time presenting topwater lures but fish have exactly
20-minutes to prove to me that they are willing. Crankbaits and
spinnerbaits should make contact with bottom or cover to be
effective. My rule for all my fishing ventures is to give the
bass what they want. I have no favorites—except the lure that
caught the last fish.
Cloudy days will add hours to your morning ventures and prolong
the "bite" most days.
is a fantastic summer fishery, and if you wade, try the areas
around Violets Lock, Pennyfield, Point of Rocks and lower
Lander. You can rent a boat at Whites Ferry.
Susquehanna River, call John Cunningham of
Campground (717-877-2704) in Duncannon, Pennsylvania.
He has camping opportunities, rental boats and shuttle services.
“Fishing the Upper Potomac River” and “Pursuing River Smallmouth Bass”
are invaluable for you river rats so send $25 to PPC
Publications, 4708 Sellman Road, Beltsville, MD 20705 and be sure to specify the book
We offer guided fishing
trips 12-months of the year and while it may seem expensive, we
can teach you as much in a day as you can learn on your own in a
year. See our website at www.penrodsguides.com
for more information and our weekly fishing report.
fishing need not be a futile day—it can be one of your most
memorable ventures. We just have to be smart and thoughtful. I
want to be off of the water by high-sun, and that’s just about
the time that I see many of you launching your boat. Give a
little—gain a lot. Be careful.