Rivers in the late summer

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Shane Durrance

We’re headed towards the St. Lawrence River next week so I thought this would be a good time to talk about rivers in the late summer. The St. Lawrence is typical in many ways. What I say about her will apply to most rivers around the country.

Catching bass at this time of the year in rivers is all about current. It puts oxygen in the water and it activates the fish. Find it and you’ll find the fish.

And for me, as an individual angler, that makes the fish predictable. Add that into the great fishing up there and it’s fair to say that I’m really excited. It’s great to be high in the standings. We all want that. But even if you aren’t as high as you’d like you can have a good time catching lots of fish from lots of different locations.

So, when I’m searching for bass up there next week I’ll be looking for places with a good current and maybe an eddy nearby. In the St. Lawrence that’s easier than in most places. It’s full of drops, channels, depth changes, funnels, humps, and islands.

A place like that demands map study. No matter if it’s a paper map or an electronic map you can find some of the places you want to check out long before you ever launch your boat. And because of all the commercial traffic, there are several good maps available.

You can contrast that with fishing reservoirs or lakes in late summer when the fish might be holding anywhere. Maybe they’re somewhere along miles of ledges, miles of weed lines or even up shallow along miles of the bank. That makes them a lot harder to find.

If there’s anything I’m concerned about when I look towards next week, it’s the high water. That won’t play into my game plan as far as finding the fish is concerned but it will affect how far I have to run and whether or not I’ll have to lock. Locking is the big deal.

The thing some anglers don’t understand is that going through a lock is not a first-come, first-served proposition. Being in front of a lock before a commercial vessel gets there doesn’t mean a thing. They have the right of way, and it doesn’t matter how big your fish are, or what place you’re in, or if you’re in line for a check, or if this determines whether or not you’re going to the Classic next year.

If I have to lock, I’ll set a predetermined weight in my mind. When I reach that weight I’ll immediately lock back through so I’m on the right side of the lock in plenty of time to get back to the weigh-in. It’s the only way I know of to be sure. Fish to the last minute and you might not weigh in any fish at all.

The locking situation is a minor problem, though, when you think about the 2019 Berkley Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River presented by Black Velvet. Great fishing, beautiful scenery and large, enthusiastic crowds make for a dynamite tournament. I’m really looking forward to it.