Wet wading season is here
The brilliant blue seas of the Gulf stream, and the fight of fish larger and stronger than you, are experiences worthy of the investment. Racing from location to location in an over powered bass boat, pitching worms and jigs from the bow platform to hidden Largemouth can also be a load of fun. But for me, there is no better time spent fishing than standing in the Monocacy or Potomac casting to river smallmouth. Memorial Day marked the arrival of my favorite time of the year, wet wading season; the time of standing in the river with jumping smallmouth on the line.
For the rest of the summer, I expect if you want to find me and I am not at home or work, there is a good chance, I’ll be keeping cool standing in the Monocacy tossing lures to hungry smallmouth.
When it comes to river fishing for smallmouth one can make it as complicated or as simple as one chooses. Basically any freshwater fishing rod will work for the task and multiple lures will catch fish. However, I have developed a system over the years that has worked well and I believe to be the most productive in pursuing the river runners.
Beginning with the rod and reel; I prefer a spinning reel loaded with 6 or 8 pound test line. I like to use old fashion monofilament line that has a low memory. The reason is that when running lures in the current fishing line has a tendency to twist. One trick to avoid line twist is to every once in a while let the lure hang a rod’s length from the rod tip and freely spin. This will work out most of the twist in the line.
Concerning the rod, my personal preference is an ultra light, fast action rod 7 feet in length. I believe the longer light action rod allows me to accurately make longer casts when using lighter baits. Several years ago, I gave up on using high priced rods and reels. In today’s market there are plenty of quality rods and reels that will not break the bank. Graphite IM 7 rods often run in the $50.00 range and a matching reel with plenty of bearings to keep it running smooth also run about the same price. But by no means am I suggesting that you must go out and purchase a rod and reel just for a few hours of smallmouth fishing. Use what you have. It is better to have a rod and reel and use it, than to sit at home wanting and waiting to purchase the perfect rod.
Baits are often a personal preference. Some experienced fishermen feel they know and use the best for river smallmouth. While that may or may not be true, the reality lies in the fact that the confidence a fisherman has in a lure often causes the results. If you believe a lure will catch fish, then you are more apt to use it more often and thus will catch more fish when using it.
For sheer numbers of fish, it is hard to beat an inline spinner whenever fishing running water. Match the size of the spinner to the water. For the Monocacy, a #1 or #2 Mepps spinner is about the right size.
My go to bait for many years was and still remains a minnow shaped jerkbait. I keep to the more natural colors of blue and silver or black and silver. For years I fished Rapala jerkbaits exclusively, however, in the last few years, I have been using other manufactures with good success. Smaller sized crayfish colored crank baits are another hard bait worthy of tossing from time to time.
Soft plastic twisty tails fished on a lead head in white or yellow have been a favorite bait for many river fishermen for years. Along those lines I have caught countless river bass on deer hair jigs and rubber skirted jigs, either swam in the current or bounced along the bottom.
On the last trip, I spent most of the evening casting a small spinner bait, a bait I have not used much for river smallmouth. The white single blade ¼ oz. spinnerbait was responsible for all of the bass, both large and smallmouth I caught that evening.
A technique that a fellow writer and friend shared with me a few seasons ago has turned into one of my favorite means to catch the biggest smallies swimming in the river. That is worm fishing in and around the current breaks. Using a 4” to 5” senko type plastic worm Texas rigged, I slowly let it float with the current giving it a twitch now and then. A simple and slow approach that appears to bring in fewer but larger fish than other baits.
Wet wading for smallmouth in the local rivers is a simple game. One best enjoyed on the hottest evenings of the summer following a day of work. With only a few baits stuffed in his pocket and with only one fishing rod in hand, a fisherman can wade the river escaping the heat. Look for me, I’ll be out there.