River Smallies by Sight

Target Smallmouth When Sight Fishing

Spring 2020


hook, attached to 16-lb fluorocarbon line.

His trash pocket flipping combo is a 7’3” Daiwa Elite Multi- purpose Brent Ehrler rod paired with a high-speed Daiwa SV TW 8.1:1. gear ratio reel.



The third way to

sight fish for smallmouth

on a river system

involves targeting sand

bars. The sandbars act

like a current break and

forms points in the river

where smallmouth congregate to actively feed.

A good sandbar can hold plenty of smallmouth and

baitfish. The best ones are usually near very deep water,

slack current or some kind of channel swing in the river.

Lain prefers to target sandbars that make eddies,

current breaks and/or points in 4- to 8-feet of water.

“I use my Lowrance Live fish finders and Navionics

Regions West charts to find high percentage sandbars,”

shared Lain. Water movement is key to where the

smallmouth position on the sandbar. This is where visually

seeing a fish will often reveal key locations and sweet spots

on the sandbar.

The most active fish will either be in the eddies or the

current breaks. When there is no or little water movement,

the smallmouth tend to move on to the points within

the sandbar. Lain

searches for sandbars

that make good sand

points with current

nearby. He likes to

fish these areas with

an EverGreen shallow

water crankbait in a

shad pattern or craw


“The crankbait

is a great lure to

cover a lot of water

and spark a school

of smallmouth into

biting,” he said.

For cranking gear,

Lain uses a Daiwa

Tatula Elite Casting Rod 7’, medium-light Randy Howell rod paired with the same namesake reel in a 6.3:1 gear ratio. He prefers 10-lb Daiwa fluorocarbon.

For presentation, Lain casts the crankbait up stream and retrieves it in the direction that the smallmouth are facing into the current. Long casts in clear water are a must to ensure that a sneak approach on unsuspecting smallmouth.

Consideration to boat position, allows Lain to be in deeper water and throw upstream across points in the sandbar.

Sight fishing for river smallmouth is a very exciting way to catch aggressive fish in fairly shallow water. Give these three high percentage areas a try the next time you find yourself up a river or a creek looking at monster smallmouth in current. You just might land a catch of a lifetime. •

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