There have been a number of studies that have concluded that, pound-for-pound, the smallmouth bass is one of the hardest fighting freshwater gamefish we have.

And when you put a smallmouth in a river, where it has to live battling current, and with more concern about predation, they seem to be even tougher. Take an ultralight rod and reel and latch onto a foot-long smallie and tell me I’m wrong.

Here in Warren County we have two phenomenal rivers where anglers can find some of the strongest and spunkiest stream smallmouths – the Hudson and Schroon (pictured below in Warrensburg) rivers.

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It’s mainly the lower sections of both rivers that are home to large populations of smallmouths. The upper sections are mostly trout water, and they are good-to-banner trout streams at that, with both stocked and wild/holdover populations.

But when the warmth and low water conditions of late summer arrive, it’s often time to leave the trout alone and go find river smallmouths.

The fun thing about smallmouths in rivers is they will hit just about anything. River life is hard, and food can pass by quickly. So the flash of a spinner or crankbait is often enough to yield a strong strike.

The best gear to use for this type of fishing is an ultralight spinning rig, though there are fly anglers who like to tempt them with offerings from the long rod as well. I’ve used both, and as aggressive as river bass are, you can’t go wrong either way.

Smallmouth bass love to eat crayfish, and late summer coincides with the best crayfish bite. So any brownish colored or crayfish shaped lures or flies worked in pools or runs can yield hard hits. And once you have a solid smallmouth on light tackle or a fly road, you will be hooked on the action. Fighting the current and a strong fish is exhilarating.

Some of my favorite spots on our Warren County smallie rivers include the Hudson between the hamlet of Riparius on Route 8 and the Route 28 bridge. Any deeper runs, holding areas behind rocks or pools can hold bass, and you may also run into a northern pike or trout as well.

The area just upstream of the Route 28 bridge at The Glen has been particularly productive, while the Hudson along River Road in Lake Luzerne has plenty of bass, and lots of public access can be found through the state-owned Hudson River Recreation Area.

Some of the best bass fishing on the Hudson in Warren County can be found upstream and downstream of the Feeder Dam, where there are several launches for kayaks and canoes that provide access. The stretch from Haviland Cove beach to Glens Falls Dam can be particularly productive, with structure from the river’s history as a venue for logging providing great cover.

On the Schroon, I’ve found the best smallmouth water is the stretch between its confluence with the Hudson upstream to the Milton Avenue bridge in Warrensburg.

The pools downstream of the former Warrensburg Board & Paper Company Dam off Route 418 have given up some 18-inch river smallmouths, and bass in the 10- to 12-inch range are quite common as well.

Two pull off parking areas on Route 418, one above the dam and the other below, are good spots to park, as is the lot at the dam itself. This is another area where you may find pike, trout or even an occasional landlocked Atlantic salmon on the other end of the line as well.

As we turn the corner of summer to fall, and summer’s heat and humidity is fading away, it’s time to put the waders on and head back into the water!