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General River Discussion

2789 Views 15 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  buzbait88
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.

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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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