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Fishing Rivers and Streams

When fishing rivers and streams different tactics need to be used to effectively find and catch fish. Currents, debris and different sections of the water will all play a vital role. Unlike lakes, rivers and streams are in constant motion making whats under the water ever changing.

The make up of Rivers and Streams

Rivers and streams can be broken down into five parts. Riffles, Runs, Pools, Eddy's and Tailouts. Each has their own characteristics and each holds different species of fish. Understanding these characteristics and what makes up each part will help with catching more fish. Knowing where the fish you are after and how they behave in moving water is very important.


A riffle in a river or stream can be seen in the above picture. It is a shallow fast moving area with visible surface disturbances. The current is very fast in riffles and they help oxygenate the water. Not many fish will be found directly in the riffle, but will be found at the very end where they can ambush prey.


Runs in rivers and streams are uninterrupted stretches of water usually the water is fast moving but does not need to be. There may be rocks and debris under the surface that do not visibly block the water flow or create rapids or riffles. The current can generally be clearly seen in the stretch that is a run. Fish will be near in the margins of a run, hiding behind structure to stay out of the powerful current as much as possible.


Pools are spots of very slow current movement, usually much deeper areas. Pools can be found at the base of waterfalls, and when the stream or river bends and weaves. Pools are a great place to look for fish as they are a low energy output zone for the fish to be in, while giving access to plentiful food and oxygenated water.


An eddy is the back flow or whirlpool created in a run or riffle on the back side of a blockage. Eddy's are also great places to look for fish, giving fish a great place to ambush prey that is being pushed by the current down the riffle or run.


Tailouts are shallow fast moving areas at the end of a pool. This may lead into a riffle or a run. When fish are very active they will hunt in tailouts and retreat back to the pool for rest or protection from large fish.

Fishing Rivers and Streams


When fishing riffles really study the current before casting in, the bait will travel fast with it. Map out the path you want the bait to take, one that will take it past several eddy's for the highest probability of a strike. Bringing a fish back up a riffle is tough and requires a lot of control to keep the fish and the line from getting caught on a sharp rock or other debris.


Runs are usually deeper than riffles, read the water and try to determine the best place for the bait to go, usually when fishing runs from shore a good rule is to cast around 10 o'clock upstream and let the current take the bait all the way to two o'clock before bringing it in. If fishing a run in a boat, stay out of the main current and cast into shore while drifting down river.


The best way to approach a pool is with stealth, fish can see above the surface and staying out of sight is best. Setup upstream from the pool and allow the bait to drift down into the pool.Many strikes will come when the bait enters the pool. Pools are also great places to set up and stationary fish with pungent bait. The smell will fill the pool and attract fish.


Tailouts are great places to fish when the fish are active. Cast upstream of the tailout into the pool and either bring in the bait in with the current or let it drift into the tailout where fish will be waiting.

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