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What Goes Up, Must Come Down.. Part 2
By Glenn Walker


Falling water tactics and locations for river bassin’

Now that you have the knowledge of how to locate and catch bass in your favorite river when the water goes out of it’s banks, you will need to have an understanding of how those bass will react when the water levels drop back down to their normal levels.  This again is a yearly occurrence on a large majority of river systems in the spring.

The predominant idea that you need to keep in mind when fishing for bass when the water levels are dropping is that bass have the knowledge that the water is dropping and that they need to relocate.  They do no want to be caught on dry land, so they must stay one step ahead of Mother Nature and the dropping water. 

The trouble that this causes anglers is that bass will many times move out from the bank and suspend in the water column.  They may be 5 to 10 feet away from the bank or shoreline that they were holding on.  When these bass suspend, they are keying on several items.  The first is any cover that they can find, whether it be trees, bushes, or underwater features like rock piles or a ledge.  Another item that these bass will relate to is baitfish.  The bass will sometimes suspend in the water and follow around a school of baitfish.

Two areas, that I pay particular attention to and try and locate when the water is falling is tree lines and funneling areas. 

Bass will set up on tree lines as they pull out from the shallow water that once was up and behind the trees.  The depth of water on these tree lines can range from 2 to 6 feet depending on where the tree line is located.  These trees also have a lot of insects on them, which attracts baitfish and in turn provides bass with the nourishment that they need. 

When I am targeting bass along a tree line, I first go after them with a search lure that will help me identify where they are located along that tree line.  The fish may be right up tight along those trees, or they may be holding a foot or two out in front or behind the tree.  That is why I start with either a spinnerbait or swimming jig.  Both of these baits allow me to cover a lot of water in a short amount of time and will help me determine where the bass are positioned along those trees. 

For colors, I like to keep my selections pretty simple.  If the water clarity is good, I will use a spinnerbait that has a lot of flash to it, so it resembles a fleeing baitfish.  A ¼ ounce white or silver spinnerbait with a tandem blade combination will work well.  If the water is on the murkier side, I use single Colorado spinnerbait, which will put out a lot of vibration.  White or a white and chartreuse color scheme is my choice.

As for swimming jigs, I like a ¼ ounce jig in either a white or bluegill pattern.  Again depending on the water clarity will dictate whether I use a B-Fish-N Tackle K-Grub that contrasts the jig or complements it.

After establishing where the bass are located on that tree line, I will slow down and try to get a few more key bites out of that area.  Using a flipping presentation allows an angler to drop that bait right in front of the fish’s mouth.  That is why it is important to note where you are getting your bites along the trees, are the bass sitting behind, in front, or on the down current side?  Flipping a wide variety of baits will work and everyone has their favorite.  Mine in the spring is a black and blue jig, followed by tubes and lastly creature type baits.  Last season I began using Nitro fish gravy on my jigs and plastics when I was flipping them, I think this helped me boat more fish. 

The other area that I like to target is what I call funneling areas.  These areas can be composed up of many things.  What I tend to find our areas that our congregating the bass in a specific location.  This could be a chute that the water is coming out of or a pile of lay downs that are dictating the flow of the water as it falls.  What either of these forms of cover provide is an exit point for the fish to move out of an area and it helps keep them in a central location that they will stack up in, this of course is very beneficial to us as anglers. 

Three sub-factors that affect these funneling areas are wind, current and bait fish.  I will look for areas that have the wind or current pushing the baitfish into an area that the bass are pulling out of.  This is a prime example, of where by dialing in all the factors on the water; you can really load the boat. 

Depending on the type of cover that makes up this area, will dictate what lure and presentation to go with.  If you can get away with throwing a crankbait, then that would be a good choice.  Lures such as the Yo-Zuri Rattl’N Vibe are great lures that mimic a baitfish and have loud rattles that will call the bass in.  If the cover is denser, then a spinnerbait or swimming jig will work fine.

One presentation, that I have done well with in these areas are soft plastic jerkbaits, such as the Gambler Flappn Shad and Ace.  On one occasion in June, as the Mississippi River was falling, I found the bass pulling out of a pond, and they were keying on exiting out through a logjam, that had the wind blowing the baitfish into it.  I would simply cast my soft plastic jerkbait out and let the current float it natural in front of the bass.  Two keys to this presentation were having a line that allowed me to make long casts, because the water was very clear, so I used Seaguar Inviz X fluorocarbon.  I also needed to rely on an Eagle Claw extra wide gap hook, these hooks allowed me to get the hook through the bass’s mouth, but they stayed Lazer Sharp.

By examining the water and all the factors that affect how the bass position themselves on the cover will help you catch more bass this spring as your favorite river retreats back into its confines.