In the beginning there were rivers, and the rivers were secluded. Today we have lakes, and the lakes are populated. Fortunately, the rivers still exist too. Maybe you are like some of us that got tired of fishing lakes with all the party boats and personal watercraft zipping around. Are you interested in a new bass fishing alternative that is usually accompanied by seclusion and scenery? Hey, we’ve all been there and made the switch but no one just pops out of the womb ready to stand and fish out of a kayak down a river. This is what River Bass Fishing 101 is for. This series of articles is to inform aspiring river bassers about the very basics of the sport. You can find more detailed information in the various other articles in this series and on the site.
Once you’ve decided you want to try bass fishing in the river, there will be several questions that need to be answered. This section is hopefully going to answer a lot of these questions.
Lesson 1: Which River do I Start Fishing?
Lesson one is very short and easy but it will require some homework on your part. It is recommended that you start at a river that is close to your home. Many people on various river fishing websites refer to these rivers as their “local flow.”. You can use an atlas or gazetteer or any number of satellite services on the internet to research various local flows in your area. Also, many states have paddler’s guides describing all the rivers within it. You should be able to find those at your local bookstore or on Amazon.com. Americanwhitewater.com is another good tool to use because they have information on certain sections of rivers – usually the ones with the bigger rapids. By the way, you beginners may want to steer clear of those sections of river! In the river descriptions section of this website there is also information on many of the rivers in the southeast.
I have always felt a small to medium sized river is best for beginners because there is less water volume which makes it safer and the fish are generally easier to find. In a small river or stream the fish will always be in the deeper holes in the river and those spots are very obvious in a smaller flow, even to a beginner. In a much larger river there is deep water seemingly everywhere and it is hard to figure out exactly where to begin fishing.
You may or may not know that black bass (Largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, shoal, redeye, suwannee & guadalupe) are a warm water species. What this means is that they prefer water that gets warm (above low 70s) in the summer unlike trout, salmon, grayling, northern pike etc. This in itself can help you figure out which river to fish based on water temperature. Your state’s Department of Natural Resources should be able to help you determine the rivers with bass in them as opposed to trout and other cold water species. Usually rivers flowing from higher elevations will have trout, but there will be a point in the river system where the fishery will cross over and turn into a warm water fishery. From that point on, bass, bream, catfish and other warm water species will inhabit the river. Black bass are a very versatile species that can handle extreme cold and extreme heat, but in my experience in rivers they seem to prefer water from 65-80 degrees.