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Kayak Bass Fishing Rivers | High Water Tactics

Kayak bass fishing rivers are among our favorite pastimes here at Wired2fish. We love the flowing water, the scenery, the multi-species action, and mixing it up with different tactics! Our crew and some friends from Old Town Canoes and Kayaks joined us on our home stretch of the upper Mississippi River for a fun and dynamic smallmouth bass and walleye float in high water conditions.

McKeon “Keys” Roberts and Kyle Peterson each set off with their plans of attack and establish a handful of productive yet different tactics, underscoring the point that there are usually several ways to catch fish. A mixed bag of smallmouth bass and walleye also showcase the diversity of river fishing. Each angler outlines their plans of attack and shows us how to find fish in high, flooded river conditions and get them to bite with various tactics, from topwater lures, ChatterBaits, jerkbaits, and soft plastics (Tiny Child Rig).


In this high water, Keys focuses his kayak bass fishing around flooded grass and grass edges with a downsized ChatterBait. The bladed jig has an excellent erratic action in current but also fishes well through and over the sparse river grass, especially with a ripping motion. For the deeper water, Keys uses a jerkbait to hang in the current and give fish more time to commit to the bait. Both anglers realized fish were holding tight and reluctant to travel far from cover, and these tactics proved successful for the situation. As Keys notes, kayak control is essential, and the fishing kayak with pedals allowed them to stay in place without blowing past productive spots in the current. Keys explains his boat (kayak) control strategy in detail.

Check out our Kayak Fishing Channel for more in-depth content. 

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Peterson has a passion for musky and starts by throwing a big and bold twitch bait. While too big for smallmouth (generally speaking), smallmouth can’t resist following big and bold baits. Peterson uses them to locate hard-to-find smallmouth and circles back on them with his originally-conceived Tiny Child Rig to get them to bite. The weedless Tiny Child Rig excels when kayak bass fishing – it casts with ease, sinks like a rock, and fishes clean through the heaviest cover. Peterson’s third option is a topwater walk-the-dog bait, a staple for smallmouth bass in the current.

FINESSE SETUP (Tiny Child Rig)