Fishing in Rivers 101: The Essential Guide

Everyone Starts Somewhere

When fishing a river, simply casting into the current isn’t going to give you the exact experience you’re hoping for. You must go where the fish are. There are many signs that point to fish habitation if you know where to look. Find where fish are feeding and your chances of getting the nip you’re itching for increases exponentially. So, let’s take a peek at some of the signs on the river that indicate good feeding grounds.

Best Fishing Spots

Photo by Dan A. Cardoza

Outside bend

Where the river turns the faster current follows the outer edge. Food sources get washed up in these currents, and where the food ends up is where you’ll find fish looking for an easy meal.

Weeds and Stumps

Vegetation is a great place to find fish for a few reasons. The currents are generally slowed down by growth in the water creating an easy place for fish to hang in the river. Also, weeds and roots provide fish protection from birds and other predators making it an ideal spot stay low. Additionally, fish can hide out in the water plants and ambush their prey. All these elements add up to a great spot to land your lure.


When river currents flow into a small inlet they slow down and create a whirlpool. In calmer water the fish can catch a break, and so can you.

Rocks and Islands

Photo by Sara Kurfeß

Similar to backwaters, river currents are much calmer on the downstream side of rocks and sandbars. Whether large or small boulders, fish are likely swimming behind them.

Small Pointed Waves

Current breaks are often where fish feed. When you see small triangle waves, know they are created by slower water meeting faster flows. This is a great place for fish to find a meal and a good bet for an upstream cast.

Merging currents

Water slows when currents merge and create a habitat for fish food to gather. So, look for feeder streams and drop offs and you’ll likely find some brookies on the prowl.

Woman Fishing from a Drift Boat

Finally, Let’s talk time of day

Fish don’t like the hot sun. They enjoy cooler water and shaded areas. Fishing in the morning or at dusk tend to yield a better gain. A good summer rain can be a game changer on the river. Run-off cools the water and creates a murky environment that emboldens fish to move about more freely. Add the scrumptious smorgasbord of worms and critters that wash into the river after a good rain, and you should find yourselves capitalizing on the feeding frenzy that is happening below the surface.

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