As our canoe drifted toward the shallow shoals of the Chunky River, an angler pitched a Rattlin' Chug Bug right to the crest of the shoals and started his retrieve. In a split second the Chug Bug disappeared, and the angler bowed up on a feisty spotted bass.

In no time at all, Lamar Arrington had put us on Chunky River shoal bass. Our first fish of the day was a fat spot that weighed a hair over a pound, but fought like a 4-pounder.

Working the shoals thoroughly, Arrington quickly followed up with another bass on a Chug Bug. Though the water was flowing swiftly, the bass were ready, willing and able to smash our offerings and make off with a hearty snack, or so they thought.

While many leaves were floating on the surface and often proved a hazard to the lures, the bass were able to distinguish the difference in a split second, and they smashed our lures with reckless abandon.

Continuing on downriver, Arrington guided us through many treacherous shoal areas with the skill of a seasoned canoeist. Having a guide who knew how and where to go through the shoals was an added bonus, and proved to be a lifesaver on this day.

Paddling through another shoal area, Arrington marveled at the beauty of our surroundings and the wildlife that inhabited its bountiful shores.

"I think the water is just right today," he said. "The color, current flow, it's all about perfect."

Though it seemed to be a little swifter than in the summertime, the added current flow would make our trek through this wilderness much easier than during the dog days of summer when anglers have to get out and walk through many of the shoals.

As we drifted by a small cut flowing into the river, Arrington quickly pitched his Devil's Horse right up onto the shallow creek mouth.

"Dad always said that you can catch bass anywhere you have a stream or creek flowing into the river," Arrington said.

As we drifted by the cut, the enticing bait lay motionless on the surface, drifting downriver ever so slowly. And then it happened all too suddenly - another hungry spotted bass slammed into the tempting offering, and Arrington had surely called his shot.

Minutes later, we maneuvered the canoe where I could make a cast to the same creek mouth. After pitching my jig and baby Paca Craw up onto the shallow stream, I swam it over the drop, and another hungry spotted bass nailed it.

After quite a battle and maneuver around a few stumps, I finally subdued the fish and brought him into the boat. A quick snapshot was taken, and we released him to thrill another lucky angler later on.

Are you a diehard bass angler? Then take a peek at the Chunky River this fall, and try a few of Arrington's favorite shoals. There are quite a few on this section of river, and plenty of hungry bass to go with them.

Here are a few of Arrington's hotspots, and there are plenty more like them. In between the shoals and honey holes are plenty of creek bends filled with blown-down trees and stumps that hold bass as well.

 

No. 1: N32 17.880 x W88 52.733 - Leave the launch site, turn left and head southeast downriver fishing any shoals or creek mouths you may encounter. After going about a half mile or so, you'll see a house on the banks of the river on the west side. Fish the bend and shoal area about 1/8 mile past the house on the riverbank to the south.

"I like to fish the area right before the shoals, and then work the bend and the area just to the lower end of the shoals," said Arrington.

 

No. 2: N32 17.597 x W88 52.628 - Continue floating and fishing downstream until you get to the next shoals. There will actually be two shoals in a short period of time.

"I'd fish above and below every shoal area I came too," Arrington said.

Our second point of reference is actually about 150 yards downstream from the shoals that you encounter after leaving GPS No. 1. There is actually a tree located in the middle of the stream right along the shoals and drop off. Casting to the left of the tree roots, I made about three snaps of the Rattlin' Chug Bug, and a bass sucked it under the surface. I quickly bowed up on a nice spotted bass, and my first bass of the day was history.

Minutes later Arrington stuck another bass on a chromecolored Chug Bug.

 

No. 3: N32 17.533 x W88 52.666 - Traveling approximately 200 yards downstream of No. 2, stop at the next shoals area.

"This is probably the best shoals on this stretch of the river," said Arrington. "There is a large area of shoals that holds bass both above and below the shoals."

As we neared the shoals area, Arrington caught a feisty spotted bass on a topwater lure right near the bank and shoals. On a prior stop, Arrington and his partner found an eddy right below the shoals area where the bass were holding just out of the swift current.

"On one trip, we caught six or eight bass right in this one area below the shoals," Arrington said.

During that trip, the water flow was noticeably slower, and Arrington and his partner caught their bass on Devil's Horses and Roadrunners.

On this trip I caught a nice bass on a black jig and crawfish-colored Baby Paca Craw.

 

No. 4: N32 17.290 x W88 52.664 - Leaving No. 3, continue on about three-tenths of a mile downstream until you get to the next GPS point and shoals area. Once again, fish the area above and below the shoals thoroughly before moving on.

"To fish this properly, you need to anchor above the rapids and fish it before moving through," Arrington said. "Then paddle downstream, get off to the side and fish the swift water coming through the rapids."

The Chunky River expert learned a thing or two about catching bass from his dad George and by fishing with some of the top creek anglers in the country.

 

No. 5: N32 16.768 x W88 53.097 - Leaving No. 4, continue fishing the river about seven-tenths of a mile until you get to the next shoals area. Once again, anglers should anchor and fish the area above the shoals thoroughly, and then maneuver through them and work the swift water below.

"I like to fish jigs and Beetle Spins in the areas where the current is swift," Arrington said.

The Kentucky spotted bass, or redeyes as they are known locally for the brilliant red color in their eyes, are smaller than their largemouth cousins but much more aggressive and pound for pound harder fighting than almost any other freshwater fish.

"The spotted bass will lay in those eddies or slack water just below the shoals, and wait on easy meals to be swept by into their strike zone where they're easy pickings," Arrington said.

 

No. 6: N32 16.519 x W88 52.746 - Continue fishing downriver at a brisk pace, and hit the high spots or normal hotspots such as laydown logs and tree tops that have fallen into the water.

"If you see a log or top laying over in the water acting as a current break, be sure to fish just above and let your lure flow into or around the edge, and hang onto your rod and reel because a bass will usually be resting just behind the break, and they will strike with a fury," Arrington said. "Continue fishing four-tenths of a mile until you get to a steep bend in the river."

A small creek enters from the west, or right-hand side, just as you enter the bend.

"This is a great place to catch spotted bass because the river gets narrower and deeper, and the current sweeps baitfish right into the logs, stumps and wooden structure that lie on the edge of the channel and bank," Arrington said.

Anglers should be forewarned, however, that the current is really fast, and you might need a heavy anchor or piece of rope to tie off and hold you in place long enough to probe the cover thoroughly before you get swept by the honeyhole.

No sooner had Arrington told me about the area when another spotted bass smashed my jig and Paca Craw offering, and dove down into the brush. Though it was nip and tuck for a while, the football-shaped bass wore down, and I maneuvered him through the structure-filled river bend.

Though we only stopped long enough to catch a bass or two in this stretch of river, it was clear to me that the bend held the potential for catching many more fish had we slowed down and worked the area thoroughly.

 

No. 7: N32 16.256 x W88 52.364 - Leaving No. 6, travel approximately half a mile until you get to another set of shoals.

"Fish the same shoals pattern and fish the river bends and hit all of the wooden structure," said Arrington.

 

No. 8: N32 16.143 x W88 52.326 - Travel approximately one-tenth of a mile around the bend where a creek enters from the east side of the river. Fish the intersection of the creek mouth and river, and then fish the upper and lower shoals area thoroughly.

"By the time you get to this end of the river, the banks are steeper and the water is a little deeper, and you'll encounter some beautiful fall foliage during late October or November," Arrington said. "Another thing I like about fishing the river is that you hardly ever see anybody out here during the fall, and the bass aren't hammered like they are in the reservoirs and other public waters."

 

No. 9: N32 16.098 x W88 52.470 - Continue downriver for about two-tenths of a mile until you get to the shoals.

"Anglers do well with large Beetle Spins and spinners such as H&Hs in the shoals area when there is plenty of current," Arrington said. "And I like a frog-colored Devil's Horse in the eddies and in the slack water below the shoals."

True to form, it wasn't long before Arrington caught a nice bass on that Devil's Horse.

 

No. 10: N32 16.106 x W88 52.653 - Travel another two-tenths of a mile until you get to the next shoal area. In fact, there are multiple shoal areas down on this end that typically holds bass this time of year, according to Arrington.

"Fish the creek mouth and the area around the shoals with your favorite shoals bait as well," he said.

As we maneuvered quickly through a couple of shoals and swift-water areas, yet another aggressive bass torpedoed my jig looking for a quick meal. As soon as I set the hook, the hungry bass exploded skyward and shattered the calm afternoon.

During normal water levels in November, anglers could canoe this stretch of river in five to six hours without stopping. However, if you want to fish the shoals thoroughly and cover all of the good spots, you should plan for a full day of fishing consisting of about eight hours.

Although you can hit a few spots before you get to our first GPS point, we began our official trip at GPS location 1, which is about three quarters of a mile from the entry point of the river.

"I'd recommend that fishermen fish the upper half of this river pretty quickly while hitting the high-percentage areas," said Arrington. "Then when you get to the halfway point, you'll have some beautiful shoals and plenty of structure-filled area left to fish.

"If you don't watch it you'll be worn out before you get to the last couple miles of fishing before take out and miss out on some fine river fishing."