Fishing in high current has challenges and advantages when it comes to targeting bass. Many believe fishing in current makes it easier to know where bass will position so they can ambush baitfish caught helpless in the current. I hope to give you a few helpful clues to catch these bass when the current is high.
The Right Approach
Boat control is very important if you are going to have the correct angle to have the most efficient casting opportunities. When fishing in current, the ideal situation is to point your boat upriver, toward the direction of the current, as shown in the photo below. Position yourself so you can cast upstream and work the bait past the cover where bass may be waiting in ambush.
Some anglers prefer to look for rocks that they believe bass hold to more than any other type of structure. Rocks absorb the warmth of the sun so bass tend to hold to rocks seeking that warmth. Rocks tend to heat up quicker in spring and hold heat longer in the fall. When the water is cooler the bass will be looking for warmer water. Rocks are also a good place for the bass to find crawfish and baitfish. Try a football jig that imitates a crawfish or my favorite color, a bluegill-colored jig.
Bends in the river have their own current break as the current turns the corner. The deeper side of the bend can often have the biggest fish in the river system. While you can usually find bass shallow and deep, many times larger bass will be near the deeper water. When I find a dock or stump near deep water in current, I feel like the winning prize might be right there. I like to flip a jig at the docks or throw a swim bait. If I do not get any takers from those, I usually can always get a bite with a shaky head worm or a wacky worm.
Slack Water and Eddies
Eddies are obvious breaks in the current, often they can be noticed by watching the flow of the water. Eddies are slack water created by shoreline, wood, rock, or some other obstacle where the water pools or almost backs up. Many times you can see the current with the help of floating leaves or debris on top of the water. Sometimes you cannot see the current on top of the water and it might be doing something different under the surface. A tip I always follow is to keep an eye on the direction that weeds are laying under the water to determine what the current is doing.
Weeds are often overlooked as a current break, yet many times this is the pattern that works out for me on rivers. Weeds help oxygenate the water so that living organisms in the water can thrive and endure. Also, vegetation will be home to baitfish staying out of the current. And where there are baitfish, you will also find bass. Weeds are a great hiding place for bass. Try using a topwater bait over the weeds like a popper or a buzz bait. Then I usually throw a swim bait or a spinner bait, then work a jig through the weeds.
Go Small to Go Deep
When you are fishing fast current you may need to use a heavier weight than you normally do to get the bait down fast enough to where the fish are. One secret that I have learned over the years while fishing rivers is to reduce the diameter of your fishing line. I have heard of anglers using as light as 4 pound test to fish for small mouth bass in high current. This will allow it to be less affected by the current to help it reach deeper in the water column. Sometimes using a lighter weight that flows with the current is a better option. It will look like a fish or prey that is helplessly caught in the current.
I feel it is important to learn as much as possible if you are going to try to be a great angler. If you are new to rivers and want to learn more about the water flow in rivers, you can find some internet sources to learn more, like at Physical properties of rivers. By learning about fishing in current you can make yourself a better angler.
Thanks for sharing these tips. Sometimes it can be hard to manage your boat and find the opportunity to turn your focus to the actual fishing. Being able to properly read the current and notice anything that may affect it definitely helps.