Rivers in the summertime

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Thomas Allen

I suppose it goes without saying that I’m excited about fishing the 2018 Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River presented by Go RVing. There’s nothing like a win to get your heart pumping. But there’s another reason, too. I love fishing rivers when it’s hot. 

As a kid that’s really all I did in the summertime. We’d mess around in the spring but then when it turned really hot we’d turn our pickups and boats toward the rivers. The thing is about summertime on a river is that the bass are predictable. You can find them. 

The spring is great. The fish are heavy with eggs and there’s plenty of action. The deal is, though, that the combination of rains and floods along with rolling cold fronts makes every day a challenge. You never really know where to look. 

Bass fishing is a lot different in the summer. The water’s clear, or at least it doesn’t change that much, and bass behavior’s very predictable. We know they’ll be around the mouths of creeks and inflows because that’s where there’s current. And, if they aren’t there they’ll likely be out on drops or around riprap in the main river. 

It’s really a matter of checking those places out and making sure there are baitfish in the area. If there are, there will be bass. Baitfish are critical because the warmer water increases a bass’ metabolism. They can’t go very long without eating. That’s a real advantage. If they’re feeding, they’ll bite something.  

That doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily easier to catch, though. They’re still bass, and they can get finicky. But trying to make them bite when you know they’re there and feeding is still a lot better than looking all over the place for them. 

Another thing that’s great about rivers in the summer is that you only need a few outfits to catch them. This week I’ll probably only have about five rods and reels on the deck of my boat. If we were fishing a reservoir, I’d have 20.

Which outfits I’ll have out just depends. For us professional tournament anglers, it’s a matter of finding out what baits or presentations will produce bigger bass. That’s especially true of places like the upper Mississippi River. It’s a real fish factory. 

There’s no doubt in my mind that a guy could catch 50 bass or more in a day if he didn’t care about size. Just launch the boat and start throwing a spinnerbait at whatever you see. That’s greatif you’re out having fun. But it’s not so great if you’re trying to do well in a serious tournament like we have in the Bassmaster Elite Series.

There’s always some little trick or change that you have to figure out to catch bass that are just a little bit bigger. It’s our job to figure out what that is and then present it properly. 

So here’s the deal: Rivers at this time of the year are great. They make for serious action, and that’s especially true of the upper Mississippi River. But the deal this week won’t be about catching bass. Everyone will do that. It’ll be about catching the right bass.