During the summer, fall and winter, river bass can be pretty easy to locate and catch. But come springtime and it gets a little tougher. Here are four spots to check on your local river this spring.

Run-outs

Narrow channels, or run-outs, connecting the main river to adjacent oxbow lakes or backwaters often attract loads of bass during both the pre and postspawn. The majority of largemouth bass spent the winter in the main river area and migrate through these channels to get to prime spawning habitat in the oxbows.

These run-outs can be bass magnets for another reason, too. The moving water, either coming out of the oxbow or flooding into it, attracts baitfish, which then attract bass. Since bass normally stop to feed during the spawning migration, a run-out makes perfect sense.

Effective lures include baitfish-imitating crankbaits like the Fat Free Shad, a single swimbait on a jighead or multiple swimbaits on a castable umbrella rig. If the water is flowing into the main river, position the boat so you can bring the lure with the current. Feeding bass face into the current and lures brought along naturally with the flow catch more fish.

If the water is flowing out of the main river and into the oxbow, anglers should traverse the run-out and check out likely nearby areas (maybe flip some shoreline brush) to give the fish time to return and resume feeding. Then, again bring lures with the current.

Flooded Backwaters

It’s common for Southern rivers to flood during the spring, and when this happens bass often put the spawn on hold and feed in the newly inundated lowlands. High water lets you get back into chutes, cuts and backwaters off the river you couldn’t fish before. Water in these areas often is clearer, making chuggers like the Pop-R and other topwaters especially effective.

When bass bury into the bush and brambles, the most effective technique is flipping and pitching a jig, tube or creature bait. Pitch into all types of cover, but you’ll likely discover that the bass are holding in a specific type.

Bright white jigs or tubes can be key in this muddy, flooded water. All winter bass have been feeding on baitfish, so mimicking a shad is the way to go.

Determine whether the water is rising, stable or dropping. This indicates whether the fish will be very shallow near the new shoreline (rising water), mixed throughout the backwater (stable water) or on the outer edge (falling water).

Eddies and Slackwaters


These two likely bass-holding areas go hand-in-hand. They’re located where a point joins the mouth of a backwater or run-out. When a point extends out from the bank it breaks the current and creates an eddy at the end. Often the eddy is at the edge of a flat strewn with wood cover that rides the current around the point and eventually comes to rest on the shoreline.

Prespawn or postspawn bass stop at these locations during the migration and a limited number of bass take advantage of the shallow, calm flat for spawning. The fish riding the eddy seam are actively feeding, waiting for disoriented baitfish to be carried to them on the current. The fish on the flat are inactive (or spawning).

Two different moods require two different techniques. For the eddy fish, a fast-moving crankbait, swimbait or castable umbrella rig is a great choice. Again, bring the bait with the current for best results.

For the fish holding in cover on the flat, flipping a jig is a good move. Normally neither of these spots are expansive so both can be fished quickly to determine if the bass are there.

Island Backsides

There are at least two sides to every island, but the most important one for bass anglers is the slackwater side, the one that gets a trickle of current and is chock full of aquatic weeds and wood cover.

These areas are prime for bass that spawn on the main river, but the cover and ambush locations make it worth checking no matter the season. Largemouth bass would rather not fight strong current and often find exactly what they need in the backwaters.

Depending on the amount of cover, anglers can catch bass on jerkbaits like the Rogue, flipping jigs or running a crankbait, but often these backwaters are so stuffed with aquatic weeds that skittering a hollow body frog like the Pad Crasher across the top or punching through the weeds with a heavyweight Texas-rigged craw are the only options.