Fishing rivers in the fall

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Bassmaster Marshal

It’s hot now but in no time it’ll be fall and that means good river fishing. The water will be low, or maybe normal given all the heavy rainstorms we’ve had this year and that’ll make the fish easier to find, if not easier to catch. 

When rivers get high, like after a heavy storm, the water swells and the fish spread out all over the place. We’ve all heard stories of guys catching them around picnic tables in flooded recreation areas. Those stories are probably true and they bring a smile to our faces, but those conditions make the fish really hard to target. There’s too much water to cover.

Another good thing that happens in the fall is that the water clears up some and the float goes away. You can concentrate on fishing instead of playing dodgeball with floating trees that you may or may not be able to see. 

I start my fall search by looking for whatever current I can find. There won’t be much so it might take me a while, but it’ll usually be time well spent because the bass will be looking for it, too. And when they find it they’ll they stay put and feed. 

During most of the year you’ll usually find bass on the downstream side of current. They position themselves inside ambush points and wait for something to wash past them. But this is not most of the year. This is the fall. You’ll find more of them — especially the better ones — on the upstream side.

Laydowns in current are especially good in the fall. They collect algae and other scraps of vegetation which then attract baitfish. That’s one of the two things bass are looking for — food and protection from predators. 

Another reliable place to find them, starting in late summer, is on sand. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the form of a bar, a pile or a point. As long as it’s sand it’ll be good. I think the reason for that is that the shad are looking for clean cover and sand is about as good as it gets. 

What I just said about laydowns and sand might sound like opposites. One is messy. The other is clean.  However, they are not opposites. They are two different situations that attract bass. That makes them basically the same to us anglers.  

As far as a recommendation for a good fall river lure goes, that won’t be easy. At some time darn near anything in your tackle box will catch them. That said: I always have a squarebill handy. My choice is something made by Strike King. I can’t give you a model or color because every river is different. I try to match size and color to whatever the bass are eating. 

A spinnerbait is a good choice, too. The water’s fairly clear and there’s always one you have on hand, or can customize real quick, that’ll match the hatch. And, at times topwater baits will be effective, especially if the water’s calm and you don’t feel comfortable fishing with a spinnerbait. 

Point your rig towards a local river this fall. Take advantage of what it has to offer before the really cold weather hits.