When it comes to fishing rivers, or streams, even the most experienced angler can be intimidated. This is because Rivers are not a still body of water where you can cast out your bait and let it sit in the same spot until a fish swims a long and takes it. Rivers have currents that draw the water and can be very fast moving. If you throw your bait in a river and wait for a few minutes, you could be in some serious trouble trying to reel it back in. Even in slower moving streams, you still have to be careful where you throw your bait because the current could take it right into rocks and you end up snapping your line making for a very bad fishing day, as well as leaving trash on the bottom of a river. Most streams and rivers don’t have lots of open shore line, so you have to be careful casting around them so you don’t get snagged on a tree or bush.
Fish swim facing the current, and are usually swimming up and against the current because if they swam with it, it would get swept away. They also will normally hangout in an eddy so they are not constantly having to swim against a fast moving current. What you want to do is find a nice spot where there may be rocks tucked up making one of these eddy’s and toss your line out there right in the middle of it. Since a fish doesn’t want to swim out and into the current, it will go after an easy target and take your bait. Another good trick is to look for an eddy and toss your bait a little bit upstream so it flows into the eddy, and not right on top of the fish, so it doesn’t get spooked. It may take you a few times to get the bait in there, but once you do there is a pretty great chance the fish will bite. The main thing you want to try and do is not scare the fish because rivers and streams, especially in the mountains can be very shallow and clear. If a fish sees you coming, or you throw your bait and it makes a huge splash, you could spook the fish and it will swim out of the eddy, or rock formation and be gone downstream in a flash.
When fishing rivers, or streams it is good to understand what an eddy is. Fish are strong swimmers, but don’t want to be swimming against a current all day, or they would have to use a ton of energy which means they have to eat more. Even though this is great for people who love to fish, it is not always good for the fish because food isn’t always available. So fish will want to hangout where the water isn’t constantly flowing, and this is where an eddy comes in. Basically an eddy is a part of the river where the current circulates like and is getting disrupted so the water slows. This makes the water circle in a slower rate and almost makes a vortex. The fish can swim around a lot easier, or sometimes even lay there with little to no effort at all without burning energy. Since the water is slower, it is good for us to throw our bait into because it’s not going to get swept away, and gives us more time to attract the bigger fish laying at the bottom waiting. A lot of the biggest fish I have caught in river and stream fishing have been tucked up in eddy’s and little rock outcroppings where the water is running slower. Fish are usually lazy and only like to move fast when getting away from something, or trying to catch something to eat, otherwise they are generally swimming around very lazy.
Read The Current
When you get to a river, it can be a little overwhelming of where to even start. Depending on what time of year it is, you could show up at the river and see some very fast moving rapids and wonder how you could even catch a fish. I promise you that there are fish in that river, and there is going to be some big ones. You really want to take a look at the way the water is flowing. It can be quite obvious to which way the water is running, but you also want to see how fast the current might be so you can scope out how fast your bait is going to travel in the river, or stream. Sometimes I will take some grass or a few leaves, and drop them in the water a few feet out, and count how fast it takes travel 20 or 30 feet. This gives me an idea that a soft plastic or salmon eggs might travel in the same rate of speed. The problem with Rivers and fishing them can be the current because if the bait is going to go super-fast and blow by the fish, it’s not going to bite the bait. Fish want to see the bait and check it out, and really see that it’s real because they aren’t that stupid. They are smart and just don’t chase after anything that’s put in front of them, or it would be called catching. My suggestion is to walk the river and look at the parts that are calmer and not white cap rapids, and really look at how fast the current is moving and look for those rock cropping’s and eddy’s.
When it comes to fishing rivers, most people, especially me think of fly fishing. Fly fishing is definitely one of the most popular ways to fish streams and rivers because you are putting the bait right on top of the moving water and making the fish look at it like it’s a living creature. This works in many ways because you are trying to mimic the environment that the fish lives in every day. The problem with fly fishing is that it can be extremely hard to learn and master because of the different techniques involved. If you are like me and not a fly fishing guru, you want to take your spinning rod out and have some fun, but what bait should you bring. If you are going after the big bottom feeders like Carp or Catfish, you can stay with stuff like night-crawlers, or leeches and even small fish like minnows will work great because it’s what they might actually see at the bottom. For smaller fish you can use stuff like lures, and things that look like crawdads, or smaller minnows, but you can also use things like insects, or lures that look like them. They will always go after stuff that looks like dragonflies, or even grasshoppers because those will fall into the water from trees and bushes. Try to stay away from stuff that is really going to get caught up on rocks if it sinks fast because it can be a nightmare to unhook. When it comes to lures, I like to use the smaller feather lures that have a spinner on it so that it flashes as the current hits it, but I don’t usually use anything that is too heavy or big. I like the small real minnows you can get at your local bait shop or even big retailer like Walmart. I also don’t use a lot of weight because when I fish streams and smaller rivers, I take my ultralight rod with me so I can feel the fish bite.
When fishing in rivers and streams, it is really important to know your surroundings and really getting to know how the water is moving, and how fast it’s moving, so you can gauge where your bait is going to end up in a few seconds. It’s really good to figured out where the eddy’s are so you can really see where fish might be hunkered down and resting. Test a few “honey holes” out and see if you get a bite, if not, move on and keep trying because they are in there somewhere. Take a look at any bugs that might be out and flying around and try to use a lure that looks like that. Fishing Rivers and streams are one of my favourite places to fish because I love to hear the sound of the water running, and when you land a big one, you will wonder how something that big could be hiding around such a small rock. If you are in an area where you haven’t been before, stop in a local tackle shop, or even big retailer and ask what the most popular set-up is for where you are going, most people will stop and help you out. Pick a spot you really want to go and walk up and down the shoreline for a few minutes and really get a feel for where you are and maybe where a lot of people haven’t been. Fish are going to love places where there hasn’t been a lot of fishing activity.