The key to pre spawn smallmouth bass fishing in rivers is to think critically about where they spent the winter, and where they spawn – and then locating holding places along that route.
In many rivers, bass winter in the channel – but in areas out of the current. Places like the backs of wing dams, in deeper holes behind rocks, and deeper wood in running sloughs. They spawn in areas protected from current, typically natural or manmade backwaters.
Here are three places to look for pre spawn smallmouth bass fishing in rivers:
1. Backwaters Adjacent To Current
If you know smallmouth bass will spawn in a typical backwater, a key focus point is the current areas most closely related to that backwater. Sometimes it’s rocks around the mouth, or an entry or exit point. Look at an aerial photo and imagine how a bass could swim in – and find the closest areas with current.
On many developed rivers like the Susquehanna, Mississippi, and others, marinas and boat canals are the number one spawning area for many smallmouth. Spend some time fishing both the outside and inside of these areas until you find what stage they’re in. In the beginning of pre spawn smallmouth bass fishing, they’ll be on the outside rocks and wood – then move to the marina proper once they actually spawn.
Just like in lakes, when you’re pre spawn smallmouth bass fishing, points are key spots for river smallies. They deflect current, offer a feeding eddy, and can concentrate fish migrating from one part of the river to another. Use satellite imagery to locate any points between where bass winter, and where they spawn and fish them thoroughly.
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