Stream Fishing for Smallmouth Bass

May 25, 2018

When late spring weather patterns hit the northern reaches of the US, anglers will be plentiful, boat ramps will be busy, and bass will be hungry. Whether you do not have a boat, or you simply want to escape the on-the-water fishing traffic during this time of the year, streams provide excellent shore fishing and wading opportunities for smallmouth bass anglers in many locations. Fishing in flowing water for bronzebacks can be a rewarding, yet challenging scenario for many anglers. Following a few tips and tricks can help you have successful outings on the water.

First off, the most important part of stream smallmouth fishing is safety. Flowing water can rise quickly and unexpectedly, causing potentially dangerous situations in many areas. Checking your local weather reports and stream levels will ensure that you have a safe day on the water. Remember to always let someone know where you are fishing and when you are expected to return.

Stream Fishing for Smallmouth Bass

Rod and Reel

Though the possibility of catching a trophy smallmouth is possible when fishing streams, most fish that will be caught will be 15 inches and under. An ideal rod for stream situations is a 6-7 foot medium light spinning rod with a 2500 size reel spooled with 8lb fluorocarbon line. My rod/reel of choice is a G. Loomis E6X Bass Spinning Rod with a Shimano Stradic CI4+ Spinning Reel. The length of the rod will allow for longer casts and more control when fighting fish, and the mag light power and extra fast tip allows for precise control when fishing small baits.


The amount of bass fishing lures available today can be extremely overwhelming, and they all work in their respective situations. Because stream fishing requires you to pack light with minimal gear, lure selection is of the utmost importance. When I travel to local streams to target smallmouth bass, I prefer to bring four different baits. The first of these baits is a Rebel Wee Crawfish. These baits excel in rocky bottom areas and in faster current. The next bait is a Gary Yamamoto Original Senko Worm, 4 inches. I prefer to wacky rig these worms with an o-ring and a size 1 Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap Hook. These baits are loaded with salt and provide an appealing wiggling action with little to no rod movement. This movement in combination with the high amount of salt in these baits, make these worms irresistible to bass in slower current and structure. The next bait that I would have in my arsenal would be a Z-Man Finesse TRD in the color Mud Minnow. I like to fish these awesome little baits on a Green Pumpkin Z-Man Finesse ShroomZ Jig Head in the 1/15 ounce size. These worms provide a unique stand-up action on the bottom of the water column due to the air filled, super durable, yet supple, ElaZtech plastic. This action makes them perfect for most situations, including pressured fish. The last bait that I would bring with me on the stream, though often overlooked by many anglers, is a Silver Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Spinner in size 3. These baits are great for covering large stretches of all types of water due to their fast retrieve and great castability.


When heading to the stream for a day of bass fishing, bringing a few key items other than the obvious rod/reel/bait, can help you have a successful day on the water. These items include, a pair of pliers with line cutters, extra line, polarized sunglasses, sunscreen, a cell phone for photos and emergencies, and a FishUSA hat and shirt to showcase with your catch!