River Fishing for Small Mouth Bass with Live Bait
For their size the small mouth bass is one of the most exciting fish you can catch. These fish will test even the most experienced fishermans skill. Once hooked they often head straight to the surface to shake the hook loose. Small mouths will "tail walk" for several seconds at a time. After jumping like a snook a few times they are known to dive for the rocks below. Add the current of a river to the mix and you will have a real challenge.
While artificial lures catch a lot of fish nothing can beat the success rate of live bait. The beauty of live bait is that catching it can be as much fun for children as actually using it. Before beginning it is best to check local regulations. Some bait type creatures are endangered and off limits. Also it is not uncommon for certain bodies of water to be off limit for any type of live bait. Never introduce a new species of bait to an area that it is not native to. An evasive species can quickly destroy the local habitat.
When teaching children to fish it is best to start them off with worms or nightcrawlers. Fished under a bobber this bait will catch anything that swims. For small mouth bass it is better to use the larger nightcrawlers. Thread them on a hook with about 1 inch extra dangling near the point. This will create movement to draw the fishes attention. If smaller panfish nibble your worm away when you are targeting small mouth bass you will need to either move to a new area or try a different bait.
Crawfish are an excellent choice. They are easy to find and will catch bass of any size. To find them simply lift rocks slowly at the waters edge. After the silt settles look for mini lobsters. Place one hand, or a small net behind the crawdad. Use your other hand to scare it backwards. When grabbing them, gently pinch behind the front legs. They will freeze. Push your hook through the shell, down through the belly and back into the tail. This method will keep the crawfish on the hook for several cast. To fish with this type of bait target the calm areas behind large rocks. I like to use them with only a hook and small sinker. After the sinker touches the bottom I lift the rod tip. This will lift it into the current. Let the bait settle then lift it again.
If wading in the water looking for crawfish is not your style then lift a few rocks and damp logs on shore. Here you can find another veritable small mouth bass bait - salamanders and lizards. These will often stay still until they are touched. Hook and use them like you would a worm. You can toss these anyplace but next to fallen trees works well. Be careful not to use endangered or rare species. If you do not know then do not use it.
As a kid roaming my home waters I would never pass up a frog. Sometimes it would take several minutes to catch it but I always knew the largest bass of the day would be caught on a frog. The ones that are two to three inches long work best. Use a large gap hook and sinker. Rig the frog from under the chin up through the space between the eyes. Toss the frog to deep calm water and let it sit. All you do is sit back and watch the line. When the line starts to move in an unusual direction reel in the slack and set the hook.
Minnows and small shiners can either be bought at a bait store or you can try and catch your own. Stay away from shallow rivers and strong current when using these. They are consistently catch small mouths but the lively ones are a lot of work. If you can find an area that is calm without much current than after frogs these will be the best bait you can use.
Bait fishing for small mouth bass is an enjoyable way to pass an afternoon. Children love to go fishing and catching your own bait increases the enjoyment for them. It is also fun watching them run around trying to catch the bait. Just be sure to bring a camera to record the moments in history.