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Finding Current Means Finding Fish in Summertime


The fog was still hanging over the warm, green waters of the New River.   My 1/8th ounce buzz bait made a gentle clicking sound as I guided it down a row of water willow.   It was the only sound out of the ordinary from this June day on West Virginia‘s New River.  

Suddenly the splendor of that early morning was dashed with a furious splash and my tiny bait was silenced and disappeared, inhaled by an ambushing smallmouth bass.    Moments later I released the fish to be caught another day and continued to repeat the process.

"The top water bite is usually good at this time of year until late morning, and then it’s pretty much over until late in the day," said our guide Shawn Wishart of Mountain State Anglers in Fayetteville.

The New River is teaming with healthy smallmouth bass. Therefore, chances are high you’ll catch fish at any time of the day under any conditions.   But knowing the water and knowing the seasonal patterns will help you to land more fish with greater consistency and bigger fish at any time of the year.

"The water temperature is about 80-degrees," Wishart explained. "Normally we don’t see those kinds of temperatures until July and August.  This has been an unusual year." 

Wishart has been fishing the New for the past 20-years.  He spends about 150-days a year either fishing it himself or watching guests of his employerAdventures on the Gorge catching fish.   He’s learned the New River like the back of his hand.

"Run the current edges.  Fish toward the bank, bring them back across the eddy and along the current seams," Wishart said. "This time of year in the hot water, fish are looking for the air conditioner.  They’re going to be in the rapids."

The riffle areas tend to be cooler and more oxygenated, holding more fish.   The pattern holds true for most bodies of water.  Find the current in the summertime and you’ll find most of the fish, but the New is a different animal.  It’s easy to see current in some places, in others it isn’t so evidence.    Knowing where the current is on the flat stretches makes the difference and will only be discovered with experience.

"In the slower water and deeper water, down 15 or 20 feet, you’ll have low 70’s water temperature and that’s what the fish are going to be in the bigger pools," Wishart said.  "In the shallow water and fast moving pools your looking for a reaction strike using fast moving baits near the surface in the slower water you can get down to them with a big heavy jig and fish slower."

The slower pools on the New River don’t appear to be typical smallmouth habitat.   Several hundred yard stretches will feature sandy banks on each side, devoid of the rocky habitat that holds smallmouth.  The water will be nearly still.  Wishart recommends moving off the banks and into the middle of the waterway in these areas.   Deep in the middle of the river are boulders literally the size of a house offering cover and comfort to the trophy size fish everybody dreams of.

"The deeper the eddy, the better the chances the fish are going to be in there in the cooler water," said Wishart.   "Still the summertime pattern is fishing the current lines."

Those deep rocks create current that isn’t readily noticeable on the surface.  Finding those eddy lines will help in finding the bigger fish. 


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