As we neared the shoals area just below the Highway 80 Bridge east of Chunky, we eased the anchor out and began fishing. Although the water was unusually muddy and turbulent for this time of year, I cast a crawfish-colored Bomber Mini A onto the rocky shoals, and a nice spotted bass promptly nailed it.

After a quick catch and release, I pitched back onto the shoals, and another bass smashed the lure. They were just the first of many on that trip.

Arriving at yet another shoals area with Justin Giles on a recent trip to the 7 Mile Bend on the Chunky River, the expert bass angler quickly drew a strike from a nice spotted bass. Though he lost the fish near the boat, Giles never missed a beat and continued to ply the waters with his crawfish-colored Mann's Baby 1-Minus.

A few minutes later, another ravenous spotted bass smashed the crankbait and fought like a much larger fish.

"I don't know what it is about this area, but we've had three bass on in the last few casts," Giles said.

The swift waters of the 7 Mile Bend have provided a rigorous upbringing for the bass, and they thrive in the shallow waters and rocky shoals along the river.

Located just east of Chunky, off old Highway 80, the 7 Mile Bend is one of East Mississippi's favorite summertime hotspots for anglers, canoe enthusiasts and water lovers. While the water is too shallow for outboard-powered boats during the summertime, it is ideal for anglers and water lovers who fish out of canoes, kayaks or johnboats.

The fact that anglers can't access the river with outboard-powered bass boats keeps a lot of people off the water. And while there may be other areas of the river that have better fishing, none have better access. In fact, the launch ramp and take-out point are only about one quarter mile apart. The 7 Mile Bend actually runs in the shape of a horseshoe as the water flows due north from the Highway 80 Bridge just east of Chunky before turning back east and eventually running back south crossing old 80 near Boyette's Fish Camp to the east of the launching point.

Continuing downstream, the accomplished angler pointed out prime bass habitat and ambush locations.

"You can usually catch bass by targeting those laydowns and shady overhanging areas in between working the shoals areas," Giles said.

As we continued frothing the water with our lures, I was amazed at how far this youngster had come with his fishing prowess. As a mere 7-year-old, he could use a casting reel about as good as most men. And later on, he won youth and even adult bass tournaments, a testament to his love of fishing and his prowess learned while fishing with his dad Joe.

As we continued paddling and fishing, Giles continued to give tips on fishing different areas, and it was no surprise when he enticed the bass into striking and taking his tempting offerings.

"I like to fish almost anything crawfish-colored when targeting these river bass," Giles said. "These bass really love crawfish, and they'll attack anything that looks like a crawfish whether it is a crankbait, spinnerbait or jig and craw."

Giles uses a variety of lures depending upon the water levels and current flow. While topwater baits are good during certain conditions, subsurface lures are the most consistent producers.

"I like to cast crawfish-colored ¼-ounce Beetle Spins and H&H's around the shoals areas as the water never gets too swift or rocky for those fast-moving lures," he said.

If a bass spots them, it can catch them.

"Other sure bets are hard-bodied jerkbaits like Rattlin' Rogues, Rapalas and 100-series Bandits and Mann's Baby 1-Minuses," he said. "Popping plugs like the Pop-R and Skitter Pops are also very hard to beat at times."

If you're looking for a change of pace during the hot summer weather, head to Chunky and the 7 Mile Bend fishing destination on the Chunky River and try a few of Giles' favorite spots for yourself.

There's sure to be plenty of shoals, deep creek bend holes and other locations that hold hot summertime bass. And if you get too hot, just step out of your boat and take a dip into the refreshing cool water, and you'll be good to go for more exciting spotted bass fishing on the 7 Mile Bend and the Chunky Shoals area.

 

Landing: N32 19.585 x W88 55.250 - Leave the landing, and turn to the left, or south, and travel to the shoals area right below the old railroad bridge.

"Fish the areas where the water swirls around the rocks and shoals first," said Giles. "You can usually pick up a bass as they lay below the shoals and large rocks waiting for easy pickings to get swept by."

 

No. 1: N32 19.736 x W88 55.299 - Leave the bridge area, and travel until you get to the next shoals area just north of the Highway 80 bridge just below the launch ramp.

"Stop just before you get to the shoals, and work the area thoroughly before moving through the shoals," he said. "Once you've worked the upper shoals, then move on through and hit the lower side of the shoals also. Usually you'll catch them below the shoals if you don't catch them above."

 

No. 2: N32 20.009 x W88 55.159 - After fishing the first shoals, continue on until you get to the next river bend.

"This area is full of submerged trees, stumps and brush tops that hold baitfish and bass," said Giles. "Usually there will be current flowing along the outer bend that will sweep baitfish up into the wood cover, and the bass will lie in wait for anything resembling a meal to swim by.

"Pitch your spinnerbait or jig right up alongside or into the brush, and hold on."

 

No. 3: N32 20.090 x W88 55.250 - "Travel downstream until you get to the power line in the curve of the river, and fish the shoals area," Giles said. "I'll fish the turbulent water with a jig or spinner, and cover the sandbar with a crankbait."

Anglers should bring an anchor to use in areas like this so that they won't miss any of the prime fishing areas around the shoals.

"I like to cover a lot of water fast and then concentrate on fishing the prime strike zones around the shoals," he said.

 

No. 4: N32 20.147 x W88 55.126 - After fishing No. 3, continue to the next bend and shoals area. Fish the shoals and any visible brush in the water or along the outer bend of the river.

While many of the shoals areas will be much the same, each may have subtle differences that are keys to holding fish.

"Be sure to hit every piece of structure as well as the open water around the shoals," Giles said. "Sometimes the water may be clear and look devoid of fish that you can't actually see, though fish are really there."

 

No. 5: N32 20.287 x W88 54.795 - Leave No. 4, and continue on until you get to yet another shoals area and bend in the river. Near the end of the bend, we encountered a structure-filled sandy bottom that held several bass.

"In a span of just a few minutes, we got on the bass in this area, and had several bites on crawfish-colored crankbaits," said Giles. "I pitched a Baby 1-Minus out, and had a fish smash it in the open water near the boat, and then on the next cast one crushed the lure right near the bank."

While anglers usually catch fish around current breaks such as submerged tree tops, stumps and rocks, open water that has sandy or rocky bottoms also hold fish that are undetected by human eyes. Once they smash bait from seemingly out of nowhere, you'll realize that they were there all the time, however.

 

No. 6: N32 20.194 x W88 54.332 - Leave No. 5, and travel about a half mile until you reach another shoals area. Continue fishing above and below the shoals as in the previous spots.

"Cover the shoals area thoroughly so you won't miss a hotspot as there is usually one spot in the shoals area that will hold fish," said Giles. "The key to fishing every shoals area is finding the hidden honey hole in that area."

Whether you're fishing a pond, river or lake, every body of water has areas that bass prefer over anywhere else in that specific area, and these locations may change as the water flow and levels change on a daily basis. But the bass will utilize unique locations or spots that have the same characteristics regardless of other factors.

 

No. 7: N32 20.042 x W88 54.304 - Continue down river until you get to the next power-line crossing. Anglers will find yet another prime zone for catching bass in this area that has it all.

"This area has rocky shoals and wooden structure as well as a bend in the river with a sandbar on the downstream side, all potential fish-holding habitat," Giles said.

Though Giles had no way of knowing, the area also had special memories for me as I caught my first redeye bass at this very spot so many decades ago.

The occasion was my first scouting campout on the banks of the river during the fall, and I couldn't pass up an occasion to fish. While everybody else was back at camp, I snuck away and started casting a spinnerbait in the swift water. When a spotted bass smashed my lure, I set the hook and started hollering. I just knew that the bass was a monster.

As it turned out, I was very glad nobody heard my shouts of joy as the bass was only a couple pounds. Though I was temporarily embarrassed, I was just as quickly taken aback by the beauty of the fish and its red eyes. I would later find out that the redeye bass occupy small creeks and streams such as this in Alabama and some areas of East Mississippi as well.

 

No. 8: N32 19.756 x W88 54.415 - Continue on about .4 of a mile until you arrive at the next shoals. As we arrived at this location, the young angler continued casting his Mann's crankbait across the rocky bottom. It didn't take long before yet another bass engulfed his offering.

"There he is," said Giles.

The spotted bass attacked with a ferocity rarely seen in these parts, and fought with every ounce of strength it could muster. The pattern of fishing shallow water shoals had held up yet again and was like clockwork. After covering miles of river, each shoals area usually held hungry bass.

 

No. 9: N32 19.669 x W88 54.485 - After fishing No. 8, we rounded the bend and spotted the Highway 80 Bridge near Boyette's Fish Camp near the take-out point. Our last shoals area was found just above the boat ramp and bridge.

"Be sure to save a few casts for this spot because the pool above and below the shoals are just a tad deeper than the rest of the water, and they will hold bass," Giles said.

I have caught bass in the area also during low-water periods in the fall when only the pool above the shoals held water. Feisty spotted bass chased small fry around the pools and readily struck my crankbaits and spinnerbaits during those times.

After covering this last shoals area, we took out at the landing right at the bridge, and another successful day of fishing had come to an end.