River Smallies

It’s no secret live bait can be dynamite for river small mouth bass. What is the best type of live bait one may ask? This can be debated fisherman to fisherman but I will give you a little insight on my favorite baits and what works best. The following baits are listed in order from least favorite, to favorite. Let the countdown begin!
5.) Night crawlers: These guys will catch any type of fish roaming the river from smallmouth bass, to catfish, to walleye. Night crawlers can be used by beginners or experienced fisherman. This is probably the cheapest of my choices which makes them very appealing allowing for a fun filled day of fishing for the entire family.
4.) Leeches: They may be ugly but they sure can make for a great day of fishing. Leeches are usually an easy bait to come by at your local bait store.
3.) Crawfish: The countdown is getting closer to my favorite bait with crawfish. Hook these guys through the tail and be ready for a strike. They are usually productive at all times of the year in the river. I know they are a favorite of small mouth due to the number of fish I catch spitting them up. Give them a try.
2.) Clippers/Hellgrammites: Runner up for top river bait. These can get a little pricey when buying them from a bait shop but they will undoubtedly produce. Also, you can easily make a small net and catch these in local rivers and creeks. A future article will detail how to make the net but until then, hook these guys in the back end and be ready for action.
And finally, the Winner is…
1.) Stone cats. This bait is referred to many fisherman as a stone cat but is actually a Madtom. These are very expensive to buy but worth every penny. As many of these as you can get your hands on, plan on catching that many fish or more. Stone cats will produce fish after fish even if the stone cat is chewed up or dead. This is another bait you can catch on your own with another type of net that will be covered in a future article. Hook these guys through the mouth and your thumbs will be hurting by the end of the day due to the fat you’ve been in the fishes mouth unhooking them all day.
I like to fish all of these baits with 8 to 10 pound test with a size 4 or 6 hook. Put enough split shots on to make your bait bounce off the bottom. You will know you have to much weight on if you get stuck on the bottom multiple casts in a row. River smallie fishing can be a blast! Try live bait and you will be tired from catching fish by the end of the day. But what a good problem to have!

John Stravinski
Pro staff writer

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