Sightfishing for River Smallmouth by Dr. Ricky Shabazz

River Smallies by Sight


Spring 2020

R s I ig V ht E fi R shin S g M for AL

Smallmouth bass are some of the most aggressive fish to catch in a river system. Sight fishing for river smallmouth can be a tricky; yet rewarding way to target high percentage spots where fish stage to feed.

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his article offers three sure ways to locate

smallmouth bass on a river system using

sight fishing strategies to target staging fish. Lake Havasu is the home to some of the best smallmouth

current breaks, sandbars, tules, deep holes, and a host of other shoreline cover that smallmouth frequently use as ambush spots. The river portion of Havasu can offer some of the best smallmouth bass fishing during the spring.

bass fishing in the West.

During the spring, aggressive smallmouth bass begin to

Havasu is formed by the Parker Dam on the Colorado transition upstream into the river as water temperatures

River. The lake is approximately 45 miles long with over

approach the high 50s and low 60s. These fish are often

450 miles of shoreline. Both the Bill Williams and Colorado in search of easy meals as they stage before entering

Rivers flow into Lake Havasu from opposite ends of the spawning areas.


The Havasu National Wildlife Refuge is located at the upper most northern portion of the river lake. The Bill Williams River enters Havasu from the southeastern



The first way to sight fish for staging smallmouth in a

end of the lake. The northern end of the lake fishes very river system involves targeting current breaks and eddies.

different than the main lake or southern reaches of the

Fish that use back eddies as current breaks are

Bill Williams River.

often easily seen hugging the bank in shallow water.

The Colorado River flows into the lake from the north Current breaks offer calm slack water for smallmouth to

reaches of the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge and is

congregate without exerting much energy.

often very crystal clear with varying current flows.

The best current breaks are often very close to

The northern stretches of Havasu offer an abundance stronger current or deeper water.

of river habitat such as backwaters eddies known as