Smallmouths are at home under New River’s foam

New River
Current seams, where two different currents meet, are often marked by surface bubbles knows as “foam.”

Smallmouth love to hide in the foam

What’s the best way to approach raft, canoe or kayak fishing for smallmouth bass in a mountain river with moving current, as opposed to a reservoir?

The New River is a prime example. With an uneven, rocky bottom marked by rocks, pea gravel and car-size boulders and 1- to 8-foot depths, anglers need to know where bronzebacks likely will be.

“You read the water by looking at the surface for currents, seams and eddies,” said guide Marty Shaffner.

Mostly, that means watching for lines of surface bubbles.

“The home is in the foam,” said Jeff Payne, Shaffner’s guide-business partner.

Lines of foam created by bubbles occurs at seams, which are long, deeper stretches of bottom scoured out by the river’s currents, usually behind surface or submerged rocks that constrict and speed up water flow. Smallmouths gather in seams to await insects and minnows caught in this marginally quicker current.

“It’s where all their food congregates,” Shaffner said. “Everything that floats through a seam is basically pulled out of holes. The Virginia guys call it ‘push water.’”

Trout anglers know all about it,” Payne said. “It’s a buffet line for smallmouths and trout.”

About Craig Holt 1382 Articles
Craig Holt of Snow Camp has been an outdoor writer for almost 40 years, working for several newspapers, then serving as managing editor for North Carolina Sportsman and South Carolina Sportsman before becoming a full-time free-lancer in 2009.

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