River fishing is one of the most entertaining and exciting types of fishing there is, but one thing about it is certain: River fish can be crafty and hard to catch. People spend years learning the ins and outs of a particular stretch of river and the fish that inhabit it before they begin reeling in great catches. While most of us don’t have that much time to commit or live close enough to become experts, you can greatly improve your chances of a successful river-fishing trip with the following tips...
1. Determine how and where you will be fishing.
The first steps to a big payoff when river fishing are choosing a general location and determining how you will be fishing it. Some of the best spots are in the backwaters of the river as far away from human activity as possible. It also helps to determine how you will be fishing. For this, you have three primary options, and all of them have their pros and cons:
- Shore fishing
- Boat fishing
2. Protect yourself.
Like most outdoors excursions, you will be exposed to the elements and should be dressed accordingly. This means wearing the proper clothes for the weather, preferably made of non-cotton fabrics so that they will dry quickly should they get wet. You will also want a good pair of polarized sunglasses, which will help you visually locate the best fishing spots and the fish swimming in the river.
3. Gather information from the locals.
A great way to prepare for a river-fishing trip is to talk to local anglers to determine what is biting in different parts of the river. The specific species in the river will play a large part in determining how it should be fished, the equipment you will need and the bait you should use. For instance, you won’t be using the same poles or the same weight of fishing line for trout as you would for salmon or sturgeon. Local anglers will also know the best times for fishing and may even give you a secret spot or two if you are just visiting. The best places to find locals who are willing to share their knowledge are at bait and tackle shops and at boat ramps.
4. Prepare your gear.
Once you are armed with a little intelligence from local anglers, it is time to prepare your gear. Make sure you have extra line, several lures and live bait. What you find in the river may be different from what you are expecting, so even though you are looking for one type of fish, you should be prepared for any eventuality.
5. Find spots where fish tend to congregate and bite.
A large part of your success is in understanding where fish like to swim and eat at particular times of the day. The following spots are some of the most active:
- Bends in the river – As fish swim around bends in the river, they tend to stay on the outside.
- Pockets and eddies – Look for pockets on the upstream side of rocks and boulders. In addition, fish often feed in inlets and eddies where whirlpools are slowest.
- Merging currents – When there is a fork in the river upstream from the current, fish often meet in the intersection where food tends to accumulate or linger.
- Drop-offs – Fish congregate in deep drop-offs just offshore because the current is slower, and it carries food to the bottom.
- Overhanging trees – Fish often hide from the sun in the shade of overhanging trees.
What are some tried and true tips you river fishers have for the rest of our readers? Let us know in the comments below!