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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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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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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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