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Discussion Starter #1
Inland rivers and tidal rivers have a lot in common, while tidal rivers are more peculiar. We need to discuss the various types of rivers, and get into some of the things beginning river anglers find mysterious.

Tidal rivers have downstream current but for several miles upstream have reverse current flow once or twice a day depending on where the moon is in relation to earth and sun. Tidal graphs are often included in sonar features, so to get the tidal information look for that in your unit or consult online data. Follow the tide in casting downstream since current is moving upstream. When a tide goes out to sea cast upstream, bringing lures directly to bass. When it goes out look for deep holes where bass go during low water. There are enough things to talk about there to fill many hours here.

Bass in particular relate to many objects in a river, like ledges, sand bars, humps, holes scoured out by current. They like anything that breaks the current, like eddies formed by wing dams, tree tops, brush piles, boulders, bridge pilings, rip rap used to stabilize a river bank from eroding. Moored barges often produce small eddy currents. An eddy is a pocket of water spinning back up current then returning down current. Those are prime bass haunts. Why? Bass typically face upstream watching for prey to be swept down to them. They are very reluctant to swim against current as that results in lost energy. They spend the warm months feeding, gaining fat for winter, so choose to remain as lazy as possible, learning to choose larger easy to catch meals. Anything moving against current is regarded as unnatural, or another predator. Bass can find portions of an eddy that have neutral current, giving them a great ambush position to catch prey diverted into an eddy caught up in the current. A bass will dart out into current if prey comes close enough, but will pass on a meal that might cost more calories than it can gain. Accurate casting and flipping is a necessary skill to put a lure close enough to interest a bass. Let a lure drift down into an eddy, preferably first right where an eddy meets the main current.

The prime key to successful bassing is to cast lures upstream, guiding them into breaks in the current. Bass normally position at the edge of current, finding places that require practically no effort to remain motionless until an easy meal gets close enough. That is most likely along the banks where most easily located current breaks are, but they also find mid-river breaks like humps, holes, ledges, sunken barges. A tree can sink mid river and become a bass magnet, but current continually relocates those and even moves humps, bars and ditches, even cutting new channels. That dynamic requires keeping up with river structure and cover, or knowing how to use sonar expertly.

River fishing techniques almost always center around the one factor of current. Learn all you can about current. Where unbroken current is, you can eliminate that portion of a river as unproductive water, which will be the large majority of any river system. Find the edges of current to find the bass. In slackwater areas well away from the main river channel look for places with some current bypassing the main channel, or man-made structures like drainage ditches that bring irrigation discharge into a river. Bass will often spend their life in a slackwater area if it can find some holes close to shallow feeding areas.

OK. There are surely some folks here that have plenty of valuable experience fishing rivers, so it's your turn to add posts.

Jim
 

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Where would you start to look for Bass in cold current? I'm not fishing a river so to speak but it is the upper end of a lake used to generate power and is subject to some good current.
 

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I have an early In-Fisherman report called "Rivers the last frontier" and believe I sent this to a few folks on this board? I can mail the magazine to Jared to copy in color and post if interested. The detail on the nature of moving water and how bass relate is excellent.
Tom
 

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Im game :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Cold current? Bass hate it at any speed. A mild warm current in a lake is fine since that moves baitfish down to them, while a strong current at any temperature is something they avoid. I call the power house at the dam for a generating schedule and head for still waters when they let the water go in winter. In summer its a bonus on the lake. On a river in summer largemouth bass tend to hang at the edges of current, rarely using energy to hold a position in moving water. Even smallies tend to use rocks to break a current.

Jim
 

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In the Cooper River here in the SC lowlands, one of the techniques I have seen that nails some MONSTER bass is to find the ditches and small feeder creeks. On an outgoing tide, I have seen anglers use large single bladed spinnerbaits and slow roll them in these ditches and feeder creeks when the out going current is pretty much at max and they can fill a livewell with beautiful bass pretty quickly.

During a BASS Federation tournament I was in one year, I watched my boater put nearly 16lbs of fish with 4 fish in the boat in less than an hour doing this.

I appeared to me the fish were using the current as they always did. Do bass react differently to cold water current in tidal systems than in regular lakes and rivers?
 
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I never fished rivers till I moved to Florida. Texas just doesn't have many that people really want to fish. Trinity river being the main one in N.Texas and that is nasty :) Anyway, when I moved to Jacksonville I had the huge St. John's river running right through the city to deal with.

I had to learn all about tidal fishing in order to catch bass. In one particular area called Doctor's Lake which is a large basin off of the main river that covers around 3,000 acres is where I fished mostly. This has current only during tides. If someone where to ask me which is best incoming or ourgoing I would have to say to me they are the same. I have caught good fish during both. I have also caught them in the exact same locations during both. This lake has allot of boat docks so pilings are good bets during the current. But where I did the best was way back int he back of Dr's lake. It has a creek that comes in from a marsh and is silted in allot so it has a ever so slight depth drop. But it has laydown logs everywhere back there as it is very undeveloped.

During low tide the water gets shallow back there yet bass are still there. I have caught bass in about a foot of water around logs and in the middle in 2 feet. There are allot of smaller feeder creeks that finger off of this main creek. When low tide comes all that water comes out of these feeder creeks into the main creek. Bass will take advantage of this and ambush small bait that comes out of those creeks making for good fishing. Likewise in the high tide water will get high enough for the bass to get back into them again and feed on the smaller fish that are hiding in there.

I guess in this example I would recommend someone go to the back of the creek in either example of low or high tide and fish the laydowns around the small feeder creeks. Boat dock pilings where a second choice and sometimes the best choice depending on season and temps. In the summer the shade that boat docks offered was the best method of catching fish there period.

This is how I successfully fished this tidal system here.
 
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We can sit here and tell you where to fish based on our own experiences, but not being there or fishing there ourselves, it is all a guess. So I would prefish both of these areas and try it yourself to eliminate water. Once you have eliminated some water it leaves you with a smaller area to learn and master and will help you to try to duplicate this in other areas of the lake or river.

If you can eliminate water you are getting somewhere. Keep that in mnd. Try to eliminate as much water as you can so that your areas to learn are less and less.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Looking just at bass biology, if a largemouth has to work at holding a position because of current, that bass is behaving abnormally in any fishery. In general it's best to fish next to current, from there to the shallowest backwater, and anywhere in between.

An example is an eddy current. River water rushes against a solid obstacle like a sunken tree or a rock jetty. Most of the water might peel around into the main flow. No bass there. Some of the water often glances alongside the obstruction then curls back around upstream, then reenters the main flow, making a sort of whirlpool. At the edges of that rotating water is a null edge where current suddenly ends and slackwater begins. That's where bass love to get, in the null water, in any kind of river. They will find the most gentle water right up against violent water. Baitfish and other forage gets trapped in the whirlpool, so to a bass the whirlpool is like a "Lazy Susan" serving tray that sits on a table revolving so you can wait for a dish to pass by, then scoop it.

In a tidal river bass will lay up in pockets facing up a drain ditch, letting subsiding current drain forage past them. At high tide they spin around and find places to intercept forage moving out of the main river. At low tide they often take to the deepest pools in the river or find safe pools in slackwater areas like a ditch running along a weedline or out of a patch of weeds.

Jim
 

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Both smallmouth and spotted bass evolved in river environments and are more streamline to take advantage of the current. largemouth on the other hand are much more bulky shaped and do not handle current very well for sustained periods. All bass are designed to be ambush feeders and make quick sharp turns and short burst of speed. Bass find an ambush site and face the current where the current has a break to see or detect the prey coming towards them. The key is learning what are good current break locations where you fish. Rivers are totally different than tidal current or power generation current. The river current is constant, whereas tidal and power generation current is on and off. Tidal areas also have flooding associated with incoming current and dropping water levels with outgoing ebb current in the opposite direction, very different form the constant one direction of river current.
During the cold water period, where water is below 45 degrees, the LMB bass are just trying to survive, will seek the warmest, slowest current available and be inactive for the majority of the time. Why fish in those conditions, try to locate water where there is no current and warmer water, if possible.
Tom
 

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I thought maybe I would add about innercity rivers, those not spanning cross state such as the Otho, or Mississippi. I am talking small rivers and creeks that turn into rivers used by a city, such as one of my favorites, the Buffalo River.



Now the Buffalo River is mainly a Steelhead River, which stretches inland from several other rivers that conjoin from creeklike sizes. It forms into a river miles inland, and has been adapted to be used for the inner harbor for Buffalo NY. The mouth is right above the Niagara River. Now the current in the lower river is very slow, but going further, you find more current areas. I found that the outside of the mouth holds smallies, the lower holds largemouth, and I found more smallies where the current is further inland, where the boat still can make it. Now the idea to this is when fishing it you can target many areas, for two different species, since it is connected to Lake Erie. This river has weird banks full of old pillars and docks, looked to be washed to pieces. Huge submerged holding tanks also hold fish. There was once an occasion I threw my jig into the hole in a tank, and got a fish through it. This shows how the industrial debris may hold bass. It creates current breaks and jetties. The natural banks of rivers that are from creeks like this are also good because they often contain limestone ledges, especially in Western NY. So jigs, and cranks can often earn a few off those ledges. The largemouth in this river get to be very big, and very little anglers in buffalo go for them, or know about them. 5+ pounders are quite common. So next time you think about fishing a river like this, take these options into account:

1) Industrial objects and trash are always good to fish. Fish see it as a new kind of structure. Take for instance this. You can fish maybe 10 white painted docks, and then a natural finished one. The Natural one might most often contain that bigger of a bass, or more. Same concept when new types of structure are discovered. Fish the crap outta them. Jigs are your best bet.

2)Inner city bridges can be one of the best to fish in these rivers. Pillars can be drop shotted, but you will want to use a shad colored worm, or any silver color, because in these rivers the main forage is shad, small fry.

3) Old docks often are in these areas, vacant ones. You will want to use a jig here, or I have used a senko, skipping under pieces of wood and such.

4) Plant and Factory water discharge, is often visable to the angler, small pipes, big pipes, they all attract fish. In Rivers like this, irregular things attract bass. So fishing by water discharges, can be rewarding. Depending on water depths, you should make a judgement on what to use. Some type of shad looking bait works well, to make it look like it is swimming through the new water for food.

5) Ledges often are located in upper sections of these. As most were made by glaciers, irregular limestone can be found there. Take for instance Niagara falls, it is covered with limestone. But don't forget, it erodes fast, so a patch of it there may be gone the next year due to ice jam, or other erosive events. Use a jig, or bounce a crank over them. Sometimes a worm worked down them is good.

6) "Grassy Sanctuaries", are often found in the knees or bends of a river. These are LOADED with fish, depending on time of year. Between Summer and fall and spring and summer are the best times. Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, and my usual jig technique.

7) "Slyless Water". Often time there is an area where there is pillars holding up a piece of a lot that goes over water, creating 5 feet air under it then the water. This can be accessed by the water so it can be fished. FISH THESE AREAS! Skipping lures into these areas, or throw anything, it will work. I have done it.

Good luck on small inner city rivers!
 

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Great post James! :D Thank you for sharing your tips and advice :clap:
 

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One thing I've noticed about fishing the Mississippi is when it gets hot in the summer you always read about fishing deep. That doesn't necessarily apply to river fishing, because the current provides an adequate amount of oxygen throughout the year. Something I really like to do when river fishing is to get a heavy sinker that won't move easyily in the current prolly 1/2 ounce and then texas rig my plastic worm/ tube jig/creature bait to it letting the sinker slide. Then I cast it to the up current side of what I am fishing and then feed it line letting the current take my plastic into the laydown. It works good for me.
 
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