Top Baits and Tactics for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass on the Mississippi River

By Terry Fitzpatrick
February 6, 2006

Spring: Mid-March thru May

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass will move in to the backwater lakes in early spring. Normally during this time of year, the bass will be in calmer water and become more active as the day progresses, mainly due to increasing water temps. My two favorite baits in Spring are 1/4 oz white spinner bait with a single silver Colorado blade and the Team Supreme Rascal Ultimate jig, black/blue matched with a zoom salty chunk, black with red glitter, fished around downed trees.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth in early Spring will stay in the main channel if the water levels aren’t too high. 1/4 oz jig heads matched with grubs or ringworms work well behind wingdams and main channel points. Later in Spring, smallies will migrate to spawning areas, away from the heavy current of the main channel. Flipping jigs into shallow, rocky or sandy bays with little current will produce good smallies, as will Cabela’s Gravedigger crankbaits, worked along riprap bays.

Summer: June thru September

Largemouth Bass

In the summer, Largemouth bass will move into logs with heavy current or go to backwater pad fields mixed with duckweed and eelgrass. My two favorite baits during this time are floating frogs, such as snag proof’s tournament frogs, scum frogs, and my most popular Spro’s Dean Rojas bronzeye frog. Another one of my favorite baits is, again, the Team Supreme jigs combined with zoom craw chunks.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass will move on to main channel wingdams and closing dams, and eelgrass points with good current flows on them. Two favorite baits for these conditions are Rebel Pop-R’s in the early morning or cloudy days, and swimming jigs in 1/4 oz white colors on eel grass points.

Fall: October thru November

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass will start to move out of current and go back to the deeper bays again, away from the main channel current. Two favorite baits are Cabela’s Gravedigger crankbaits and Team Supreme's 1/4 oz to 3/8 oz Rascal jigs match with zoom craw chunks. Largemouth’s have a tendency to congregate in large numbers during this time of year and can be easily pinpointed in the deeper areas of the backwater lakes.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass will also congregate this time of year, but they will concentrate on wings and closing dams in the fall. As the eelgrass begins to die off during this time, the smallies will move off of their grassy points, so you can target main channel rock, as well as closing dams and wings. Doing this with crankbaits is a good pattern to target these fish. Cabela’s Gravedigger and Bagley crankbaits are good choices in chartreuse and black patterns. When casting crankbaits, make sure that you are banging off the rock, as this will generate many more strikes. Also, ringworms and tubes on 1/4 oz jigs in natural colors in deeper areas along wingdams and closing dams as the fall progresses.


These tips and tactics will give anyone a better shot at catching more and bigger fish in all seasons of the year.

Thanks, and good fishin'.