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Smallmouth Bass River Fishing | Tips for Current

Bass Master Elite Series pro Bob Downey is no stranger to smallmouth bass river fishing. Learning where river bass go and how they set up on structure and cover is a function of experience but as Downey reveals, you can reduce the learning curve with electronics. Downey takes to the Upper Mississippi River for a lesson in finding and catching river smallmouth in a pre-winter pattern. He uses his suite of fish finder and boat control tools to reveal some overlooked areas and lock his boat in place while he puts a handful of proven tactics to work on a big school of smallmouth.

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Downey demonstrates how to use mapping and side imaging to identify prime fishing spots known as “sand drops.” He explains why these dune-like underwater structures are hotspots for smallmouth activity, particularly during the fall season as the smallmouth stage for the winter. Once on the bow, MEGA 360 Imaging is the perfect tool for drawing the unique current-induced structures around the boat and showing fish positioned them.


While many lures work, Downey often starts with a topwater lure to pinpoint active fish. He then shifts to a mix of subsurface presentations to catch additional fish from the school. Notably, lipless crankbaits and a Carolina rig catch scores of additional fish. He details his gear setup for each presentation.