Lamar Arrington maneuvered the canoe through a shallow shoal area on the Chunky River like only an expert canoeist could. While Arrington had made this trek many times before, this time he was in search of the feisty Kentucky spotted bass that inhabits the Chunky and many shallow-water streams, creeks and rivers around the state.

Once on the downriver side of the shoals, he began working the shady section of the creek with a chrome Devil's Horse. It only took the angler a couple of casts to draw his first strike as a spotted bass smashed his offering. After a short, powerful battle, Arrington landed and admired the diminutive torpedo, and then released it to grow up and fight another day.

Joining him along the calmer waters below the shoals, I began to cast a Worden's Rooster Tail inline spinner. As soon as my bait neared the shadow line, a bass struck the lure, and the fight was on. Seconds later, I had landed my first spotted bass as well.

Over the next 30 minutes, we alternately caught, landed and missed bass after bass. While Arrington worked the surface with the topwater bait, I probed the depths with the inline spinner. The Rooster Tail was a childhood favorite of many of my friends, but I had never fished it much until recently.

In fact, I had rediscovered the lure after talking with a fellow angler. After telling Roy Gentry about missing many strikes on my creek trips, he told me that he had used the Rooster Tail on the Chickasawhay River with great results.

"We caught a variety of bass, bream and crappie on the Rooster Tail," related the veteran angler.

If they strike the Rooster Tail, you will very seldom miss the hookup, like you might with other single-hook lures. And the lure also works well in only inches of water.

The shoal areas typically have a pool of deeper water just before and right below the rocky shoals. If the water is deep enough in front of the shoals, some bass will position themselves where they can attack baitfish being swept past.

While some fish may be caught in the area just above the shoals, Arrington prefers concentrating on the section of water just below. The fish will stack up in the downstream section where the water swirls and slowly curls back before flowing downstream. Many bass lay in those eddies in the slack-water areas and feast on unsuspecting prey that have just been swept through the shoals.

On our recent trip, this technique worked very well. There was one added twist in the pattern, however, and that was the presence of shade. The morning sun had cast a shadow from the trees that ran right down the middle of the stream. The bass were positioning themselves along the shady side of the break.

The results were like money in the bank. If you could hit the spot, then you would get a bite, and most of the time catch a spotted bass.

Before moving on to another spot, we caught and released several spots of assorted sizes right along the shadow break. This area of the river south of Chunky was beginning to produce really well for us.

With the help of a Coleman Canoe, we maneuvered over numerous shallow shoal areas and around stumps, rocks and downed treetops. The lightweight canoe was just the ticket for water that was only inches deep in some areas.

While our trip was aided by a recent storm front that had dumped a few inches of rain in the area, most of the Chunky River near Meridian is navigable during normal summers with a lightweight canoe. Anglers encountering shoal areas too shallow to navigate may leave the boat and let it glide over the shoals very easily with the aid of a rope.

Swiftwater lures

While the shoals areas are the hottest spots in many creeks, they do require slightly different lure choices than most of the slack-water areas. Since the water is usually shallow and swift, traditional lures like topwaters, worms and crankbaits are virtually useless.

Anglers should employ lures that will stay above the bottom and flow in the current in a natural manner that will carry the bait right to the bass's dinner table.

While there are a myriad of lures that will do the trick, the most popular choice is the spinnerbait. Lures such as the Worden's Rooster Tail, Beetle Spin, Roadrunner and H&H spinnerbait are hot tickets and tough to beat. Along with the flash of the spinners, the lures are heavy enough to flow through the swift currents naturally.

While lure selection is sometimes very important, the size of the lure is just as critical many times. Small inline spinners, Beetle Spins and spinnerbaits are all good choices when anglers want to draw lots of strikes and catch numbers of fish. The bream-sized Beetle Spins and Roadrunners will entice strikes from all sizes and species of fish, and the larger ½-ounce Beetle Spins and H&Hs are excellent at catching the larger spotted bass.

On our recent trip down the Chunky, Arrington caught several different types of shellcrackers, redbellies and bream on the smaller-sized Roadrunner. Not to be left out, I also caught some bull bream and shellcrackers of various sizes on the small Rooster Tail.

And of course we can't forget the feisty spotted bass. It is almost unbelievable that the small spots will strike a lure that is as big or bigger than them, but they do. In fact, I even caught a small spot that was just a tad bigger than the Rooster Tail itself.

Switching gears

After catching quite a few small bass, we decided to change gears and try some different techniques that produce in lakes, reservoirs and other slack-water areas. Past experience had taught me that swift-water bass related to any current breaks they could stage behind. We had fished right by a lot of downed treetops and old stumps and logs that had current flowing around and through them. With that in mind I tied on a small crawfish-colored Tiny T Terminator Jig tipped with a white/green Uncle Josh pork trailer.

As the current carried our canoe past a brushtop, I quickly pitched the Tiny T jig right in front of the top. The jig glided slowly down into the edge of the top, and the line promptly twitched slightly before moving toward the open water. Reeling up the slack, I drove the razor-sharp hook deep into the spot's jaw. This bass was the largest that I had on up until that point, and it proved to be a worthy adversary.

In the meantime, Arrington switched to a bait rarely seen on the river, one that I suspected would be a winner. He had rigged a Zoom junebug/chartreuse-colored trick worm Texas style minus any weight. The resultant bait was weedless and provided the perfect alternative when pitching into the brushy, shady pockets.

It didn't take long before he pitched the worm up into an eddy and got his first strike. Arrington quickly set the hook, and the fight was on once again. Seconds later, his first bass caught on the trick worm was landed, admired and released.

As we continued to drift downriver, Arrington targeted shady spots along the banks with some success at enticing strikes from the larger bass. In fact, his largest fish of the day came on the Zoom trick worm. That bass sucked in his offering and put on quite a show. There's just nothing quite like catching a spotted bass on light tackle from a shallow creek. They give you all they've got and about all you can handle.

With plenty of brushtops and logs to pitch to, I stayed quite busy myself. Coming up on another brushtop, I pitched the jig back into the brush, and my line whizzed toward open water again. This time, I set the hook, and another large creek bass fought like a demon. After wallowing on the surface a couple of times he dove for the depths and tried to go under the boat. When he did, I really put the pressure on him, and he put it in overdrive, while tearing the hook from his jaw. I had the fish right at the boat before losing him in my "quick release." When you're fishing for fun and practicing catch and release, it's the thrill of the battle that counts most.

As we drifted on, I pitched the jig over a log, letting it sink slowly. As I pulled the jig back up to the side of the log, I jiggled it momentarily while trying to get it to hop over the log. Suddenly the water exploded, and a large spotted bass came out of the water and grabbed the offering right off of the log.

I bowed up on him instantly, and the bass stayed on the side of the log momentarily, before coming off and heading for deeper water. As it turned out, that bass was my largest of the day and was the most exciting catch as well. It just proves that you have to be alert all the time when fishing creeks because the strikes may come anytime, anywhere and anyhow.

Bigger bass

Veteran creek fisherman George Arrington of Meridian prefers fishing in the fall when the bass are more active, but he has been very successful in the summer as well. Arrington likes targeting and catching the larger spotted bass that inhabit the creeks and smaller rivers that he fishes. And how does he do this you might ask?

Well for starters, he doesn't use any panfish-sized baits that are specifically made to catch small bass or bream. While that's O.K. for some folks, he'd rather go for the gusto, and that means catching the bigger bass on the larger lures. Through years of experience, Arrington has learned that the larger spotted bass will go for the larger baits.

Arrington prefers fishing with fast-moving baits that attract the bass's attention and draw reaction strikes during the midday hours. He prefers fishing small Bandit crankbaits and the Big O's, depending upon the depth of the water. If the depth is adequate, he'll fish a brown/orange Big O around the prime hotspots. While some folks like to slow down and hit everything, years of experience have taught him to hit the high spots, while letting the current carry him down. By hitting the prime areas and never slowing down, he is able to cover a lot more water, while targeting the aggressive bass. The more casts you make, the better your chances of catching both larger fish and more fish.

Arrington likes to target eddies located right below the shoals also. He'll fish the current breaks and around any rocks or logs with the crankbaits. If there's a stump or top nearby, that makes it even better. When speaking of eddies, he's talking about the areas below the shoals where the water curls slowly back upstream. Areas such as this provide the bass with places to rest while waiting in the attack mode for any unsuspecting morsel that may be swept by.

Topwater action

Arrington's favorite lure technique is fishing topwater lures during the mid- to late-afternoon hours when the bass become aggressive and hungry. Cloudy days seem to spur the better topwater bites, but the bass are prone to strike on top almost anytime of the day when they are active. Favorite topwater lures are the old favorite Devil's Horse, Wood Chopper, Lucky 13 and broke-back Rapala.

While he may fish a white or bream-colored Devil's Horse on occasion, Arrington prefers fishing darker-colored Lucky 13s.

Many of Arrington's bites will come during the first couple of jerks on the bait, and that's especially true of the broke-back Rapala. He'll cast the bait out, let it sit a second and twitch it under once or twice. If the bass doesn't strike then, he'll continue to work it back to the boat with the knowledge that a strike may occur at any time. When the bass are active, he'll catch bass all afternoon long.

Kentucky bass typically range from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds on the larger sides in the creeks. Some of the smaller rivers such as the Chickasawhay, which runs from Enterprise on down past Quitman and Shubuta, have lunkers in the 3-pound range. And on rare occasions, anglers sometimes catch largemouths in the 4- to 5-pound range on some of the smaller creeks and rivers.

Anglers wanting to experience exciting summertime fishing need look no farther than the nearest stream, creek or small river near their homes. These areas typically receive little or no fishing pressure, and are usually home to good numbers of spotted bass.