Top tips for catching smallmouth bass on the Broad River

The Broad River is chock full of quality smallmouth like this one that bit Mike McSwain's Senko.

Relative depth, early start, are keys

The water level on the Broad River is just right, and so is the water temperature. It’s an all-around great time to fish for smallmouth on almost any stretch of the river, and anglers who don’t mind hitting the river early are catching plenty of fish before the heat even sets in.

“The water level is perfectly low right now,” said guide Mike McSwain of Broad River Smallmouth. “And the water temps are more than 10 degrees cooler than most of the state’s lakes.”

McSwain said the top two ways of catching smallmouth – and even the occasional largemouth – on the Broad right now involve weighted soft plastics and Mepps spinners.

“When there’s a lot of current, casting a Mepps spinner at an angle and retrieving it across the current is getting the job done. You just can’t beat a No. 4 Mepps Black Fury in that moving water right now,” he said.

In the calmer water, especially where deep troughs are present, Senkos and other soft plastics are tough to beat.

“The trick to using these lures is to let the river do the work for you. Make a cast, then let the current do the bulk of the work. It will push the lure downriver, and as long as you keep the slack out of your line, the lure will move freely enough that you really don’t have to do anything,” said McSwain (843-763-3805).

One thing anglers should try to avoid is putting too much pressure on the lure.

“You don’t want so much slack in the line that you can’t sense a bite, but you don’t want the line all the way tight all the time either. You want a little slack in the line so that it tumbles along naturally,” he said.

Relative depth is the key, McSwain stressed.

“When I’m wading in the river, I will look into the water and watch fish swimming. The floor of this river is very irregular, and they will swim along in 6 inches of water, then find a 1 foot deep hole, and they’ll hug the bottom there. If they find a 16-inch hole, they’ll hug the bottom there. They aren’t necessarily looking for an especially deep hole. Just the deepest hole they can find in the area, even if that’s just a few inches deeper than what’s around them,” he said.

In some stretches of the river, it will average just a foot or two deep almost the entire width of it, then a trough will appear that may be 6 feet deep. In those cases, and especially when that trough is adjacent to the river’s bank, anglers can have a field day if they don’t mind making multiple casts in that spot. Areas like this can give up multiple fish in a very short period of time, and can turn a good day of fishing into an unforgettable one.

About Brian Cope 2800 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at