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What Goes Up, Must Come Down.. Part 1
By Glenn Walker


Rising and falling water tactics and locations for river bassin’

Every spring fisherman around the country are faced with an influx of water from the past winters snow and spring run off.  The ability for a bass fisherman to locate and coax bass into biting when the water levels rise and then fall can be a difficult one.  With this article I am going to cover locations and tactics on how to catch river bass when the water is rising.  In part two, I will cover how to catch these bass when the water is on the fall.

When a river climbs out of its bank, many challenges exist that an angler will have to overcome to put together a successful pattern to catch bass.  The first thing to understand is that a bass will relate to the rising water in two ways.  They will either find a bank that is steep and just simply stay in front of that bank and move up in the water column as the water levels continue to climb.  The other way bass will relate to the rising water is they will move with the water as it rises and continue to progress farther away from the original bank.

There are advantages to finding bass relating to the rising water in both ways.  Finding bass that are constantly moving with the water will be more than likely holding in shallower water, which will warm quicker in the spring time.  The key here is to find water that has better clarity to it.  The worst condition that an angler will face in the springtime is high, cold, muddy water.  A disadvantage to fishing for bass in this type of situation is that every day that the water rises, the further they will be moving away from where you caught them the day before.  This forces you the angler to continually be searching out new water and following the bass as they move with the water.  This may mean you are fishing in a farmer’s field or in an area that is covered with followed timber.

My favorite technique to go after these bass is to throw lures that allow me to cover water quickly and that will generate a reaction bite out of these bass.  Depending on the water temperature and water clarity will dictate which lure you chose.  My top four lures would include a spinnerbait, swim jig, buzzbait and a Gambler Cane Toad.  All four of these lures will allow you to cover water in a very timely manner and get a reaction bite out of the bass. 

Two key items to my equipment while fishing in this manner is a high speed reel, such as the Quantum Tour Edition reel.  This reel allows me to bring my lure in quickly, so I can cover the maximum amount of water possible.  I like a 6’6” rod in this situation because there is a distinct possibility that you will be making casts in tight quarters.  A strong, but sensitive line is crucial for maximum hook setting power and abrasion resistance; 15 lb. Seaguar Invizx fluorocarbon line will shine in situations like this.

Fishing for bass that are positioning themselves along a steep bank requires a little less moving and guessing of where the bass will be positioned.  Once you have located the bass along a steep bank, they will just move up in the water column as the water levels rise.  Steep banks that are composed up of hard surfaces such as rock will warm up very quickly in the spring.  The advantages of fishing bass here are that they will not roam far from that bank.  One thing to remember is that when fishing these types of banks, you must also take into consideration the bottom content, current and additional structure. 

An example of this was a couple years ago on the Mississippi River I found a backwater lake that had a hard gravel bank that the fish would be holding when they were not actively feeding.  When the bass would be feeding they would move about 15 yards to the middle of the lake where they would suspend in and around the tops of bushes.  I was able to move and back forth from the hard bank and the brush tops and catch bass all day on a spinnerbait.

Three lures that I use on these banks that allow me to cover the three levels of the water column.  To cover the uppermost portion of the water column, I like a ¼ to 3/8 ounce spinnerbait.  Going to the lighter or heavier bait allows me to move up or down in the water column.  Spinnerbait combinations that I turn to in the spring regardless what situation I am facing have me using a single Colorado blade with either an all white skirt or a white/chartreuse skirt combination. 

To generate a reaction bite out of the bass, I like to use a Rattletrap.  The standard half ounce bait works best and I stick to two color patterns, either a crawfish pattern or a simple chrome with black back.  The last presentation I turn to is a Texas rigged plastic bait.  In the springtime, I like to use a bait that moves a lot of water, but at the same time has a compact profile, a tube or Gambler Little Otter are my top two picks.  As for color selection, I try to keep it very simple.  I either rig up a black and blue color combination or a green pumpkin with red combination.

With all the rain we have had over the past week and a half the situation has presented itself where you can go chase high water bass.  Stay tuned in a couple weeks when I present to you part two of this article, where I highlight tactics and presentations for chasing these bass when the waters begin to recede.