By the time August rolls around, you are fishing in the dog days of summer. It can be one of the most uncomfortable and unforgiving times of the year to fish. Throw in some tough fishing, and such a combination can make for a pretty crappy day on the water. But what if I told you there is a super fun way to beat the heat and catch em’ up all day long? That’s right, I’m talking about wading!
Now before we dive (or should I say wade) into this subject, I want to stress that you need to think safety whenever you step into a stream, creek or river. Slippery rocks, stronger than expected currents, deep holes, not to mention flash floods, are all things that can happen to you. When I was 18, my best friend and I waded a creek back home in Kentucky and got caught in a nasty flash flood that could have easily have done us in. So consider the right footwear, perhaps a wading staff and maybe even an inflatable vest and check those weather apps for the latest local situation before you set foot in the water.
With that in mind, I will shift gears to the fun part. The first thing is that wadeable water is almost everywhere- even in urban settings such as the Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia- and these waters hold all kinds of fish- Bass, Trout, Panfish and even Musky and Northern Pike. But if there is one fish that spells w-a-d-i-n-g it’s my favorite, the smallmouth bass. Here in the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky, we have a lot of rivers and creeks that hold some giant smallies ready to be caught.
When it comes to wading, you don’t want to pack so much because you will be moving around- and you are going to get wet. So first thing’s first, you need a dry bag for your phone and your wallet. When it comes to gear, I take no more than 2 rods at the most, along with a small backpack to hold the necessities- a few lures, a knife etc. When I hit the river, I bring my 6’9 medium action Kistler casting rod to throw topwater and my 7’ medium Kistler spinning rod for throwing tubes, a Ned Rig or my small swimbaits- that’s it. I will admit that the one box I take is loaded full of my favorite topwaters and the needed terminal tackle mentioned along with a few bags of the soft plastics. The idea is to travel light- remember, lighter is cooler, and the lighter you pack the better off you’ll be.
Let’s dive a little bit deeper into equipment for a second. As I mentioned above, when wading these rivers and streams, you’ll need a good pair of shoes. You don’t need anything fancy or expensive, an old pair of tennis shoes will do. There are wading shoes
with felt that will do the best job countering slipper moss, but a pair of shoes that give you support and traction is ideal. As tempting as it may seem, DON’T go barefoot or wear sandals. Rocks are sharp, so is glass and those old rusty hooks someone left on a rock snag. As pristine as the water may seem, you never know what kind of trash is laying on the bottom.
I mentioned some of my favorite lures for this type of fishing, so let me give you some tackle specifics. If you’ve read any of my previous blog article for iBass360, you know I
like to keep it simple. When I’m not in the boat I take that rule a step further. For wading in creeks etc., 99% of the time I bring a few topwater plugs and 3 or 4 packs of 2.75” tubes. For topwater, you will find me throwing either a Strike King KVD Splash Jr., or a Heddon Zara Puppy which I throw with the Kistler KLX casting rod. For my tubes, I stick with green pumpkin or a natural baitfish color which I toss with the Kistler Helium 3 spinning rod. That’s it- KISS.
So now you have the right gear, the water is inviting, you are ready to cool off and relax, but just as with any fishing, you need to have a plan. So let me discuss a few river tactics. I’ve been fishing moving water since I was old enough to cast the rod by myself, so I would like to think I’ve learned a thing or two by now. When wading in the summer, I look for two main things- current and shade- with current being the most important. When water warms and the flow slows down, fish will gravitate to the cooler, more oxygenated, moving water. This is where I will throw the tube up in the riffles at the beginning of a hole and let it drift down with the current. If I feel it stop, I set the hook. When fishing the middle of the hole, I’m working the topwater bait around shade lines or the shady cover where the smallies are laying in ambush mode. That’s also a
great way to find the largemouth that could be hiding ready to pounce.
Floating on a boat and baking in the sun on a hot August day could be a tedious way to spend your day off when they aren’t biting, but I hope this article gives you some good ideas of how you can beat the heat this summer. The biggest plus to wading? If it gets too hot let that riffle flow over you or just flop back into the deeper hole for a swim. I know it’s just my ticket to Live the Passion!
Bret Dawson has been a frequent contributor to the iBass360 blog writing articles about his fishing experiences in the the Ohio River Valley in Kentucky and now in the hills of Tennessee. In addition to being our pro staff, Bret is also pro staff for Kistler Rods and he has started making his own jigs. When not writing about or filming his fishing tips, Bret's passion is flippin' & pitchin a worm to wood cover.