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River Specific Baits


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I've been wondering about this for awhile and finally decided to get the thought off the merry go round in my head. Does anybody have or does anyone think there are river specific baits? I personally would not throw a PM or Mepps in the Dupe but I've read people do well on them in the Fox and the Kank. The reasoning there is due to the weeds in the Dupe. Somebody probably throws both in the Dupe and does well though.


I guess I'm asking more about specific baits not situations as we all know those can dictate what we throw and when. Do you slay the fish with a sammy on one river and have thrown it 500 times on another river under the same water/weather/time of year conditions and couldn't get bit to save your life? Just curious...

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in my opinion, no. some may disagree, but i have fished lakes and rivers and basically use the same baits and have had success equally. now, there are favorites i use in the river: buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits, but basically, any bait will work at the right time, the right place and the right presentation.

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I've never really experienced anything like that, but that might be because I don't carry as many different types of lures as some do.


I have heard from locals on various rivers that a particular color is the best for that river. For example, on the Kankakee for years, I heard that green based lures were better. I've come to the conclusion that it is more a matter of many buying into the "local lore" and using that color more. Since it is used more often, then many of the fish caught are on that color hence reinforcing the "local lore" It's been my actual experince that color matters very little in river fishing other than for angler confidence.


To get back to your original question, it may also be that a particular lure/technique may be used more often one one river than another and the fish may have become "burnt out" on that approach. It may also be the fish just being fish.


Earlier this year I couldn't buy a walleye with a suspending rogue but did well on rattlebaits. Yet another guy, I know did just fine with the rogues. Was he doing something a little different than me in presentation or location or was it just a matter of me losing confidence early in the rogue and gaining confidence in the rattlebait?

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Guest rich mc

one thing i have noticed is the longer minnow baits work better in rivers for me such as a thunderstick versus a chuby crankbait. my idea is that river minnows are slimmer and longer.also think the current effects the vibrations set off by fatter cranks. rich

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Norm, you almost have me convinced color doesn't matter too much. I'll still probably pick colors I have more confidence in though ;)


Rich, I love the chubby/wide bodied cranks in the rivers. Part of that is they seem to go through the weeds in the Dupe better than the minnow type.


Jude, your the second person to mention no topwater in the Apple. I only fished it once this past summer. Hopefully I can get out there a second time and try some topwater.

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I kill 'em on chubby wide wobbling baits. Smaller profile minnow baits catch smaller fish IMHO.


Agree with what Norm says. A lot of it is in your head. Which came first the chicken or the egg?


I would add the number one thing I can think of between rivers is differences in depth, current speed, and visibility will change what lures work effectively.


Vibrating baits spook a lot of fish in clear shallow water, but work very well in faster water. Smallies seem to have more confidence when they cannot be seen, so deeper water might make one lure type more effective


For example, a shallow Indiana creek, long casting Sammies, wakebaits, props are usually great, effective lures. There is not much atmospheric noise or even current noise in summer. Subtlety and stealth rule.


A lot of times on the bigger rivers, these baits lose out to louder buzzbaits and Spooks with loud knockers. If the water is deeper, they may not be nearly as effective pulling fish from 4' or more water. So what is effective changes.


Water temps and tree cover can change fish behaviour patterns, so again lure selection would change.


Guys like Phil and Norm who have put a lot of thought and experimentation into their fishing will find times when odd lures do work against widely held opinion. Deeper understanding of the river trumps all.


I don't think it is because fish are eating differently in different rivers. Wouldn't guess it is matching the hatch. Environmental factors make different lures more or less effective at different times. Oxygen content of water making fish lethargic and less likely to chase...etc...


I've read smallmouth stomach studies that claim a 12" eats the same sized prey as a 20". Maybe. But that's not fishing. Successful smallmouth fishing relies on accounting for the knowledge of a smallmouth's sense of it's surroundings, reaction to noise, movement, subtlety


Neat, huh? That's why we keep going back again and again!

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