When most folks envision bass fishing they think of lakes, swamps, or reservoirs. But there are plenty of lunkers to be had in America’s rivers. Sure, river fishing requires different tactics and equipment from your usual haunts, but variety is the spice of life. Here’s a list of 10 rivers every bass enthusiast worth his (or her) salt ought to try at least once for great river bass!
1 The Caloosahatchee River
This river connects Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico and might be the most overlooked fishery in all of Florida. Go with Texas rigs and maybe start with a charter company. You will get a lot more out of this river if you go with someone who knows the lay of the land, your first few times out. Bring some bug spray, too.
2 The Coosa River
You’ll want to hit this river in the fall when the water is cooling and the bass are more active. The Coosa is a great spot for spotted bass and a whacky worm rig. There is plenty of river bass action here and a multitude of charters available if you want to go that route. Enjoy sweet home Alabama for some sweet bass action!
3 The Sacramento River
Yeah, California is an odd choice for great river bass, but it’s a much shorter drive if you live out west. There are both small and large mouth bass in the Sacramento, along with rainbow trout. Of course, it’s California, so check to make sure the fishing is open and there’s enough water for a boat. It tends to be dry in the Golden Bear State at certain times of the year, so check ahead before going.
Read-up on the NOAA regulations in the US for each species including bass!
4 The Chickahominy River
The Old Dominion has lots of bass and there are more than enough to keep you busy in the Chickahominy. Bring tackle for mid-range largemouth on this river. Five pounds is a big fish, but you can catch a pile of them. Leave chasing a state record for another day and enjoy getting dinner on this fabulous river.
5 The Pascagoula River
This is another spot to hit in the fall for great river bass when things are cooling down. It’s a great river for getting off by yourself and finding your own way. Try Carolina rigs for better action and stick to the top water if it rains. You’ll also want to keep a wary eye out for snakes. Some of them are big enough to eat the bass.
6 The Waccamaw River
This river is essentially a big creek in North Carolina, but it’s got lots of bass in it. It’s also a great choice for bluegill and the crazy blue catfish. To really make this river work you’ll want to get back into the tributaries and inflows. Naturally, a Carolina rig is the perfect choice here!
7. The Penobscot River
Go north my friends for high volume great river bass. Maine is a fantastic destination for any sporting venture, but especially for bass. You can literally pull 100 smallmouth a day out of the Penobscot River. When you’re done you can have a fish fry for a whole football team and their guests. Try running spinner baits and buzz-baits and keep them moving for optimal results.
8. The Mississippi River
Yeah, this one is kind of obvious, but a lot of people discount it. The Mighty Mississippi holds more bass than any other five rivers, including largemouth, smallmouth, and even spotted bass. Run anything with a rubber worm and you can’t miss. Thanks to the length of the river, you can hit it in any season, too.
9. The Altamaha River
South Georgia is a fantastic area to visit in the fall for great river bass. The weather is cooling and the bass practically jump in the boat. This is the place to work some crank baits and even the old standby of a worm and bobber. There’s plenty of down-home charm and fish to be had at the Altamaha.
10. The Columbia River
Oregon might not be a classic choice for bass, but there are plenty to be had in this lessor known hotspot. Hit the Columbia and grab some steelhead while you’re at it. Fall or early spring is best to get bass in the cooler water. Texas and Carolina rigs are a good bet if you can find a big oxbow. Tight lines always!
River bass fishing is a different kind of bass chasing, but it’s great fun. Take all the precautions necessary for boating, or shore fishing on a river, and you’ll have a great time. It’s easy to end up in a river when you don’t want to and hard to get back out again. Be safe, and have fun. Good luck and enjoy great river bass in the US! For tips on fall bass lures and presentation, checkout this feature.