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Lures For James River Smallmouth

Lures For James River Smallmouth

By Doug Reynolds

Smallmouth bass are well-known for their aerial acrobatics and hard fight after they are hooked.  That’s what makes them so fun to catch. If you ask most fresh water fishermen about the best fight in a fresh water bass they will more likely say “smallmouth”.  Here is some information on the lures I use to catch smallmouth bass.

Topwater Baits

Topwater baits like poppers, torpedoes and small buzzbaits can be devastating when smallmouth bass are bunched up in the shallows. Cast one of these lures in shaded areas and retrieve them over submerged rocks, logs or vegetation.  Buzzbaite’s are attractive to smallmouth that believe it is a wounded or dying prey. Play with your speed, the more erratic the better. I like the buzzbait colors of black, white & chartreuse.

Plastics

Plastics are one of my favorite baits, all the worms, crawdads and lizards are very productive the right time of year. Cast theses baits to the bank or in the center of the river around rocks and logs to get some good smallmouth action. I like to match the color of these baits to the natural colors of the bait in the river. I use a worm hook from 2/0-4/0 with a bullet weight from 1/16oz up to a 1/4 oz. Sometimes I will peg the weight to the worm or lizard with a tooth pick or a carolina hook stop. This changes the action of the bait moving across the bottom, play with it and find out what works for you and the conditions you’re in!

Crankbaits

Fishing for smallmouth bass is often in shallow water, moving into deeper water. Crankbaits that dive less than four feet are more appropriate for the purpose in the river.  This will keep the snags down from obstacles in the river. Fish the edge of old logs, rocks, or the bank. Don’t be afraid of loosing your crankbait or you will never get to the spots smallmouth bass love the most. I keep a few of them in my box just for that purpose, loosing them. I like the crankbaits again that resemble real food colors. White bottom, black, red nose or clear.

Spinner Baits

Spinner baits are very productive lures as well. I like the small twin blades for the river. Again don’t be afraid to throw it in the grassy or rocky areas. That’s where the fish are. You would be amazed at what these lures will go through. This  is another imitation of a dying or hurt type of prey, vary your speed and let the lure go up and down in the water column. Throw the bait into the cover and work it back to you. Be ready because when they will hit, they hit it hard! Again as far as colors I tend to stick with black, white and chartreuse. Play with the different blade combinations and colors and you will find success.

Live Baits

You can’t beat live baits if you can fish them properly. Minnows, Helgimites, Crayfish or Worms can be very effective if you take the to time figure out how you need to fish them. Fishing off an island in the center of the river is a great way allowing you to float the bait up and down the river. Conditions change if your fishing off a bank you might want to fish a bottom rig and adjust the weight to just hold the bottom in the river current. I’ve been known to grab a piece of bait right out of the river or off the beach and fish it. Why not?  The price was right and you’re not going to get a better bait than all natural from the environment you are fishing.  In a canoe carrying a minnow bucket is not always feasible because of space limitations but I do know people who catch their bait right out of the river with a seine net.

Hopefully this gives you some information on a number of the baits I use to fish the James River. Keep following for more on this subject.

Tight Lines

Follow me live from the river on Twitter @jrsmallmouth or check the web site for updates. http://www.jamesriversmallmouth.com

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