Fishing in waders: Getting back to the roots of fishing at its best
I have at least 3 wadeable rivers within a 30-minute drive of my door and they all hold many species of fish to test my abilities as an angler. You really don’t even need much equipment to fish these rivers and all it takes is a bit of internet research and looking at maps to find some fishing areas that will fill the need for a good battle or two.
Wading is simple and gets back to the roots of fishing at its best. Very little tackle is needed to fish a river, and depending on your species of choice, you may end up catching more than what you bargained for.
The smallmouth bass is the species of choice always on my radar. Depending on the time of year and the water conditions, the presentations that are in my vest will vary. Probably the best is a simple hook, split shot and a minnow. Otherwise there are a number of baits that we could discuss.
Minnows would be my first choice only because it is amazing the amount of species, size of fish, and quantity of fish you will catch using minnows. They do have their downfalls as you need to find a local bait shop that is open, transport the bait, and once you run out you need a back-up plan.
Jigs and twister tails are an all-around standby that will catch fish all spring, summer and fall. Matching the color of the tail to the water clarity and the jig head to the current will bring many bronzebacks to hand. I pour all my own jigs, which is nice as it allows me to modify them to my fishing situations.
Crankbaits and stickbaits are another offering in my little box of tricks. They have their time and place, but you need to choose wisely as they tend to get hung up a lot. However, in the fall, you cannot beat small minnow baits for some hungry walleyes and smallmouth.
Traveling light is the way to go when on the river. A small assortment of jigs and tails can fit into a small pouch and minnow baits or cranks fit nicely into a small plastic double-sided box. I find that a fly fishing vest works well for wading and carrying all of my gear. I can even carry a small camera and a bottle of water if needed.
As far as rods and reels, go with whatever is most comfortable. I personally prefer a spinning rod that is small and light. I use a Falcon Bucoo drop-shot rod that gives me the ability to toss small jigs and feel the jig as it works through the rocks. A good-quality spinning reel with a spool full of good line will go a long way.
Wading the rivers is certainly not any sort of fancy endeavor. No fancy shirts or flashy boats. Many even prefer to skip the waders and just use an old pair of tennis shoes. Not me, but to each their own.