River bass and tidal waters

I’m over on the James River getting ready for the Open that starts tomorrow. We’ve had plenty of rain. The water’s up and muddy but otherwise it’s pretty much fishing like any other tidal river. As far as I’m concerned that’s a good thing.

Tidal rivers suit my fishing style the best. I’m better at fishing a spot thoroughly than I am at fishing a pattern or doing the milk run thing. Tidal waters are spot fisheries. The fish are very picky about where they go to feed.  

But, they are also time fisheries in the sense that if you aren’t fishing a spot at the right time you’ll never get a bite. That’s true no matter how good the spot is. The bass are almost totally controlled by water movement.

That’s different than most of the waters we fish. For the most part everyone catches fish on them. It’s a matter of catching big ones, or at least ones that are bigger than the other guy’s. I’m not saying it’s easy or routine. It isn’t. We fish a lot of tough lakes and rivers. What I am saying is that if you stay serious you can usually do it.

With a tidal fishery, however, that’s not the case. It’s really easy to blank on one of them even if you stay serious and fish as hard as you can. Believe me when I tell you I know.

The fish will move on a spot for a few minutes when the tide is right — sometimes incoming, sometimes outgoing — and then immediately move back off. If you have the timing figured out you’ll be there fishing when the action is happening. If not, you may as well be fishing a swimming pool. No matter how “correct” your lure choice or presentation nothing will happen. Most days the action will only happen once. On rare occasions it’ll happen twice.

Sometimes you can find two spots to fish by following the tide. You can fish one for a while and then run fast up or down the river to catch the right tide at another spot. Some guys do that, and they seem to be successful. To be honest I’ve done it a time or two but it’s really tough. Everything has to go just right for it to work.

That’s about all there is to say right now other than to mention that I’m really looking forward to fishing all of the Northern Opens. I’ve done well in the past and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to do that again, especially given the schedule. I had one of my best Open performances a couple of years ago. We’re fishing that same schedule this year. Maybe that’s a good omen. I hope so anyway. I could use a couple of strong finishes.

After this tournament’s in the books we’ll be heading to the Mississippi River for an Elite Series event next week. I like the Mississippi. I’d like to have a strong finish there, too.    

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