All across the country, we drive over creeks and branches that we might not think much of, but these small streams can offer some big fun for those times where you may not be able, or desire, to pack the boat full of gear and head to the lake. In fact, there is a small creek near my home that has become my “getaway” to wield a light spinning rod and pocket full of tackle to chase Redeye, Spotted, Choctaw, and even Largemouth bass. Since I began finding time to pull off the road and under a bridge to walk the banks of this little creek, I have learned a few things to pass along to make your trip more successful.
Holes and Bends
Really, the trickiest aspect of catching fish in these small tributaries is learning how the fish position themselves in moving water. There are really two things that I like to find to increase my chances of being around fish. The first area I like to look for is an area that the creek makes a bend, particularly a sharp bend. The outside bank in a bend gets hit directly by the current coming downstream and most times this creates a small pocket of deeper water, undercuts in the bank wall, and a lot of times causes trees and brush to fall in due to erosion giving the fish plenty of cover to hide around. These outside bends are the perfect area for bass to hide behind cover or structure waiting for current driven bait to come by.
The inside of these bends should not be overlooked, though! If it is a sharp bend, there is usually an area of slack water behind the point of the inner bank. It is usually in these slack areas that I find baitfish schooled up, resting out of the current. Pods of resting, unsuspecting baitfish are a good indicator that bass are nearby waiting to ambush their next meal.
The second areas that I love to find are deeper holes along the creek bed. These holes serve that same general purpose as bends you find on the bank; they are just on the bottom! It provides predators an area to hide out of the current to ambush unsuspecting baitfish that wash over the top of them. Depending on the depth and size, these small creek bass often congregate in holes.
What makes this type of fishing so fun is landing a spunky creek bass on light line and light gear. I typically opt for a small spinning reel and a 6’6” medium action rod. I will spool my reel with 10-pound braid attached to a 4-6’ long 8-pound fluorocarbon leader.
Bait choices remain rather simple, and small, in order to mimic the small bait these fish primarily feed on. If I am fishing hard structure like rocks, clay banks, and hard bottom I opt for a small 1/4-ounce finesse jig with craw trailer. Crawfish are a favorite food for these creek bass and most times this is the only bait that I need. The only time I tie on anything else is around hard wood cover and/ or flooded bushes where the jig would tend to snag too much. In these situations, I love to throw and weightless trick worm. It can be brought through the cover relatively seamlessly and make for some fun visual strikes!
The next time you are dying to catch some fish without burning as much gas and hooking up the boat, head out to all the small streams you pass on your way to work every day! I cannot guarantee that you won’t get addicted, but I can guarantee you will have a blast!