We realize that a lot of Smallmouth fishermen/ fisherpersons either don’t have a good Smallmouth lake close by or prefer the quiet and solitude of a good wooded river or stream.  We hope that the following is helpful and informative.

Know Your Environment!

While lake anglers seem to have more information about their body of water at their disposal than most river and stream anglers, here is the best possible source of a wide variety of information for your particular fishing area.   It’s the USGS(United States Geological Survey) Water Resources for the United States web site.  You can find out the current water flow for your river or stream plus the water quality and a host of other information.  Their home page is at http://water.usgs.gov/.  The specific information on each states water is under the Water Data heading or you can go directly to that page at http://water.usgs.gov/realtime.html.

This an excellent site to keep tabs on your favorite river or stream. It can help you in your planning fishing trips to your favorite areas or to new areas. Please bookmark their site and refer to it often, especially when there is any heavy precipitation in your area

Water Temperature

Before you venture out in into the river or stream of your choice you should try to determine what the water temperature is so you can plan your strategy for lure choices and retrieves.  If you are unable to take along any type of thermometer the following should get you in the general vicinity of what the water temperature should be.

Take the average high temperatures and the average low temperatures for the week add them together and divide by 2.  This should give you a pretty good idea of what the water temperature is.  For example: if the average high temps for the week were 75 degrees and the average lows were 45 degrees that would give you a total of 120.  Divide that by 2, and that gives you 60.  The water temperature should be right around 60 degrees.

Recommended Tackle

Medium or Ultra light gear is the mainstay of the stream person while those who fish rivers can use  heavier action equipment.  Shimano, Zebco and Quantum are some of the more popular brands of reels among our River and Stream anglers. While the choice of a good rod depends on the size of the lure you’re using , Shakespeare has been mentioned a few times by some of our regulars. Falcon has also been recommended as a high quality rod.

As for what line to use.  Since using light line and rocks don’t exactly go together try using some of the new “Super” lines like Berkley’s Fireline.  They have the diameter of 2 – 4 pound test but have the strength of 8 – 10 pound test.  This of course depends on what pound test line that you choose.

For lures you should generally scale down the size of the lures that you use and try to match the size of the baitfish of that particular river or stream.   Don’t be afraid to go down to 1/16 ounce  or lighter if you have to.   Just balance your lures with the type of rod and reel that you are using so you can present your lures in a somewhat natural manner.  Occasionally you may want to change to a larger lure if the smaller lures or the ones that you normally use don’t produce.   This gives the Smallies something different to look at plus it gives them the impression of a larger meal to eat.

Recommended Lures

   For streams, you can pack light, yet pack enough so that you will be prepared for the conditions that await you. Try to bring one plastic compartmentalized box, but you can pack tons of stuff in them.   A recommended lure selection would be as follows:

1. Three inch tube jig (natural shad colors in clear water and black or dark brown in stained water).

2. Three inch curly tailed grubs, like the  Kalin 3 inch triple threat grub rigged on a Bulldog 1/8 ounce jighead.

3. Blakemore 1/16-ounce Road Runner maribou.

4. Hair jig and Uncle Josh leech or twin tail trailer.

5. Small Smithwick Suspending Rogue.

6. Rebel Pop R, Hedden Baby Torpedo, Zara PuppySpook.

7. Use the  Berkley interlock small snaps for quick lure change and, no, they do not impede the action of the lure or weaken the knot to lure connection.

        Others prefer a 3 inch Power Grub  on a 1/16 oz narrow jig head in pumkinseed or white if the water is muddy. Another good choice would be a 2 inch Sassy Shad on a 1/16 oz jig head.

      The Tiny Torpedo is a must have for river smallmouth anglers. For best results however, don’t fish it straight out of the box. Add a split ring to the line tie and to both hook hangers. This will give the torpedo more action and will allow the hooks to swing more freely…less thrown baits by mr. smallie. You should also doctor the spinner a little. Take it off and bend each blade a little more, like the prop on an airplane. Also make sure you sharpen the hooks or replace them with better quality ones.  Regarding fishing techniques, The best presentation is some sort of stop-and-go retrieve, except for at night when a slow steady retrieve works the best.


    If you are planning to some or a lot of wading, especially in the early Spring be extra careful where you put your feet!  A wrong move could end your day (either temporarily or permanently!)  There are some manufacturers that make felt soles for extra gripping on slippery rocks and gravel.

    If possible always cast upstream.  This gives the bait a natural appearance or at least it will come from a direction that the bass are expecting.  When you bring your lure by a fallen tree or a little pocket on the down side of a rock, the bass are expecting some type of food to go by and if you come along with a small jig or lure the bass will be expecting it and nail it before it gets by them.   If you cast from the opposite direction you will bring it up behind them and just scare the livin’ scales off ’em!

   It’s always best to try to “match the hatch” as fly fishermen would say.  If you are fly fishing for Smallies then that is probably what you would say.  Generally you want to carry lures that match the size and color of the bait that is in the river or stream.  However there are always exceptions to rules and this is one of them.  While using small lures on good Smallie streams will generally produce tons of small bass try using lures that are a little larger than normal.  This will usually weed out some of the smaller bass and produce more of the quality Smallies that your after.

    If you are fishing an area that has gotten a lot of rain over the past several days or longer and the water is muddy, you don’t have to stay home.  If you can safely get out on the water use lures that are bright in color and make a little noise.  Smallmouth bass have to eat and just because it’s muddy doesn’t mean they have to starve.  When the water first gets muddy it will adversely affect them but after a couple of days they will sort of be used to the conditions and be looking (or actually hearing) for food.  Use fluorescent colors of Rat-L-Trap type lures, jigs with rattles and white spinnerbaits.  The key is to use a steady retrieve so the bass can home in on them.