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how to read river currents for fishing

Can you explain more about current seams and how to read them in the river? I recall many years ago fishing the Cardinal River for cutthroat trout with the publisher of the annual Alberta Fishing Guide, Barry Mitchell. Generally Safe vs Dangerous Rapid Passage. Eddy lines are created by the current differentials. Current Trumps Everything Else. Read the time. Stream fishing is much different than casting a line into a calm lake for bass and trout. The process of analyzing a river is known as “reading a river”. Gear. Here are a few things to look out for to keep you safe while on the river. However, when I get o the river ready to float that dry dropper over the riffle, I'm not so sure if I'm targeting the right area. How to Fish the Tides. River volume is also sometimes measured in gauge feet. As with all bass, river smallies and spotted bass gravitate towards three comforts that make bass habitat home, shelter , … JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month How to Rig a Flying Fish for Kite Fishing. It’s easier to find bass on a river than it is on a big lake, because the current and the river level dictate where the fish are. Reading the water is often spoken about as if it’s some kind of voodoo that only grizzled old men who smoke pipes and have many patches on their waders understand. How To. Now that you understand the current and its effect on trout, read on to the next section to learn how to use that knowledge in fly-fishing. Fly Fishing Gear. Each bend in a river creates an area with a tighter radius, places where the current folds around objects. The feature: An upstream-pointing “V” indicates a submerged object, most often a rock. Knowing how to read a river is arguably one of the most important aspects of fly fishing and can be the most difficult to learn. Slow water means trout have more time to inspect and refuse your flies, making presentation imperative. Like trout in mountain streams, bass also use rocks, holes, logs or other irregularities to break current and conserve energy. To start to understand reading a river, we need to understand a bit about fish behavior. Knowing how to read a tide chart helps you choose the best time to go fishing. Change ), http://www.sctimes.com/story/life/outdoors/2014/08/30/reading-river-instructor-says-know-paddler-experience-water/14807337/, http://www.paddling.net/guidelines/showArticle.html?566, Reading River Currents and Understanding Hazards. When fishing this structure and others, remember to focus on the edges to increase your catches of speckled trout and redfish. The following are some of the main features that you will encounter while on the river. Find a river channel and you will find fish. The secret to consistently catching smallmouth from rivers is being comfortable fishing in current. The large object displaces the current and creates a slow pocket for trout to hold. Because the seam separates a faster moving section from a slow section, it offers trout the ability to hold along the slow side of the seam and slide into the faster current to consume food. I promise you that there are fish in that river, and there is going to be some big ones. Our resource will continue to be updated so bookmark this page and save it in your Fishing Lake Murray - Lake Murray Currents - The Premier Source for All Things Lake Murray, South Carolina Look for Seams Seams are where the faster current meets the slower currents causing what we call a seam. As tide times can vary depending on the spot you are fishing, it’s safest to check real-time data on currents and tides for the selected dates. The shallow, highly oxygenated water is a perfect environment for the aquatic insects trout eat. The feature: Slackwater spots on the downstream side of a boulder or other current-disruptor can appear ruffled where the current heads upstream for a bit. Whether it be due to flood runoff or strong currents, millions of years of erosion has created the diverse river systems snaking through and around our beautiful coastline. Common Natural River Hazards. When fishing in rivers and stream system, the current dictates everything. When fish do bite, powerful gear is needed to get hook penetration, to slow sizzling runs and at … Just like a sailboat using wind to move forward, a canoe uses current. They are supposed to be able to make magic predictions by translating the fingerprints of surface currents into signs that point directly to trout. The feature: From the rock island a stone’s throw from the St. For instance, lunar phases, water currents, tides, and wind direction can all help you predict where fish are found. Pools are “home base” during winter and early spring but also offer trout a low stress environment when they need to conserve energy. To read a military clock, remember that the numbers continue onward from noon. 1. Time the Weather. Run: Runs are formed below a riffle. Is it a straight up/down line, does the seam flow parallel to the slop of the bank, or does the seam go perpendicular towards the bank. You already know about the freshwater gear to use and where to find the fish, now you just need to know which techniques and baits will work best when river fishing. RAPIDS – water flowing over an obstruction, causing turbulence. Bugs that aren’t consumed in the riffles will flow through the run and provide trout with a consistent food source. Whenever I go fishing in a smaller river, I try to find spots, where the river is deeper and has a slower stream – as pike are somewhat lazy and don’t want to waste extra energy fighting the current. Then, using sufficient power to hold the vessel almost, if not entirely, stationary; then drop anchor. Riffle: A riffle can be categorized as a rocky and shallow section of a river. Hit it at the wrong angle and risk capsizing. I'm not even sure I perfectly understand what these terms mean. The benefit: Faced with a series of waves and holes, it’s best to navigate through the waves. Often a shorter/slower retrieve is best for this line type, as the floating line section lying on the surface along with the submerged sink tip section creates a steep angle. If the current on the main river is too strong, concentrate on backwater areas where the flow is reduced. Read the time. When fishing backwaters, look for something different along the bank that will attract bass. In current, it’s important to first motor well upstream of your intended final location. They need protection from predators, shelter from the current, and access to good feeding opportunities. Source: http://www.paddling.net/guidelines/showArticle.html?566. The beginning and ending of rapids are classic examples of good fishing spots, where the river goes from deep to shallow through the rapids, then returns to deep in the next pool. Also current is faster on the surface due to less friction than along the bottom of the channel. Fishing in a river can be hard since a river usually has a fast current, and they are different from fishing in calm quiet creeks, lakes, and oceans. You will find an explanation of what to … High currents aren’t good for fishing and can be dangerous. Understanding Hazards on the River. On the other hand, the upper half of the water column is where trout will feed. The illustration at right above depicts where bass will hold then dash out to feed on food flowing by. This is most apparent in the slow water. But try to avoid dead-water areas where there is no current. An ideal position is in a current break (slack water) immediately alongside the swift current. A tailout is a great section to focus on when fishing dries and is equally productive when nymphing with emerger patterns. ( Log Out /  The best times to fish are directly related to fishing during the right tides. Tailout: A tailout refers to the bottom section of a pool where the current converges and creates a narrower seam. Tips, techniques, videos, art, photography, gear, books, and expert advice for fresh and saltwater fly Even if it doesn't look like that's what they're doing, … 2. A good fishing pole would be one that has a sturdy, fiberglass or graphite, a line that won't snap easily, and other features that actually work. A shelf is formed before the bottom of the river rises and breaks into a riffle, creating a low velocity pocket for trout to hold. 4-8oz flat sinkers are the way to go when fishing heavy current/ river banks for catfish. The danger: Hit it, and risk damaging canoe or kayak. An emerging rock will create a seam on both sides of the rock before consolidating into a single seam below the pocket. But if you’re looking to catch a monster, there are a few things you need to know. Bass hanging in small eddies just in the front of or behind a boulder. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. ( Log Out /  Eddies are important to those of us who enjoy river bass fishing. Letting the current do the work is among the perks of paddling down a river. For boaters, too much or too little flow can affect the runnability as well as the difficulty posed by a river. "The most important thing about river fishing is knowing how to fish in current," notes two time Bassmaster Classic champion George Cochran of Hot Springs, Ark. Fishing for catfish in fast-moving currents can be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that can produce huge results. The Middle Fork of the Salmon, for example, is best run at 1,500-5,000 cfs, while the Lower Salmon River is best run around 15,000-20,000 cfs. Dam, Spillway and Weir Hydraulics. I’ve found this line type to be perfect for fishing rivers like Montana’s Madison River, where currents are anything but uniform. Be certain that you have distinguished properly between morning and evening tide times. Fish face into the current. Absent a hatch, getting your flies deep will be the best way to find fish in a pool. Choose a good size for the fishing pole, such as is 8 feet (1.5 meters).Step 2, Choose good bait to take for the fish you're looking to catch. While trout hold in pools year-round, they are ideal during sunny conditions and periods with low water temperature. Considering shallow water exposes trout to aerial predators, banks are risky sections for trout to hold. We hope to create a one-stop shop for information about fishing Lake Murray. Do It Yourself – find a few areas on the lake that are prime targets for a fishing spot. Like trout in mountain streams, bass also use rocks, holes, logs or other irregularities to break current and conserve energy. At this point, the river deepens, the water velocity will decrease and the currents become more consistent. Keep safe, stay focused and be aware. Heavy weight and quick casts will be necessary to successfully fish the pockets. The danger: Get trapped in a strainer, and it’s difficult to break free. ( Log Out /  After we become more familiar, by learning about the features which contribute to currents, including downstream Vs, waves, rocks, eddies, eddy lines and hydraulics, we begin to make sense of rivers. The solution: Get stuck against a rock, and the best bet is to lean downstream. Itiwit helps you read sea and river flows. Most fishermen who spend most of their times on lakes look for the usual important factors like cover, water temperature, storms, water-depth, and season to pattern fish. Cloud shore is an extended series of alternating waves and holes. Get into the flow. Boats. “Currents and Ocean fisheries are intimately conjoined.” There are many factors about moving marine waters that influence fish, obviously hinder or help fishing vessels, and whose complexity of impacts are important to keep in mind. Paddling with the current is faster and requires less energy. Successful anglers on the lake often struggle fishing streams and rivers. The things that you care so much about are going to go into Combining the two is a great way to enjoy a day on the river. The most important lesson in adapting to river fishing is discerning the differences between a lake and river. Current is usually slower along the inside bend of a river, faster along the outside bend. Skilled paddlers may use the increased velocity on either side of the rock to their advantage, picking up a bit of speed. It’s indicated by a parting of the current. Give the arms a rest. If you’re resourceful, some cattail duff or milkweed seeds also make perfect wind detection tools. The same thing happens when a cluster of rocks or stand of trees breaks the velocity. In general, trout will only hold along the banks during periods with low light, hatch activity and during runoff. The feature: What appears as a silk-smooth pillow rising from the river is really water sheeting over a rock just under the surface. Manmade & Natural Features Affecting River Currents. It’s better to bail out than to get trapped underneath. Trout will slide into the riffles to consume the bugs that are releasing from the river bottom. Because a water molecule cannot be crushed, paddling through froth has less of an effect. The second scenario is when water temperatures rise above 50 degrees. Source: http://www.sctimes.com/story/life/outdoors/2014/08/30/reading-river-instructor-says-know-paddler-experience-water/14807337/. Simon also explains how to identify the water where the bigger fish are more likely to lie, and avoid the small fish. The solution: Go through a hole, and you’ll need all the momentum you can muster. Boat Control Systems: Joysticks, Thrusters and More. From here they have an easier time migrating upstream. It’s quite simply knowing how to read the waters they’re fishing and, as a result, they spend considerably more time playing those parts of the stream that hold fish than those that don’t. By Bob Mcnally. While the drop is only about 2 feet, the resulting recirculating hole can trap a boat and drown its occupant. Use tides, currents and water movement to your advantage. While these sections may vary depending upon the size of the river, in general, all rivers will consist of three primary sections: riffles, runs and pools. Typically, when you're fishing in those conditions, you're looking for one or two baits for the entire day and it might be a good fish but it's gonna be slow fishing. The danger: Hit that submerged rock sideways, and a boat might flip. ( Log Out /  Depending on location, high and low tides may occur twice in a day or only once. If you’re new to fishing it’s important to understand how length affects the performance of the rod. The benefit: The friendliest of river features, slackwater spots on the downstream side of a boulder or other current-disruptor, it can be a place to get out of the current for a bit of a standstill. Wherever there is current, in a river or the ocean, fish will seek places where they can hold in slower water, while allowing faster currents to deliver food to them. Due to the velocity of the water and having less time to identify an artificial fly, trout are not as selective and will feed more aggressively. These seams collect bugs and provide trout easy access to food. The sailboat has a centerboard and sail to accomplish this; the canoe uses a … You can be fishing a high producing river and have the right flies on your line, but if you aren’t fishing the right sections, your odds of catching fish will diminish. Different people have different ways on how to read a river for fly fishing. STUMPS AND VEGETATION It takes specific supplies and talent to be able to fish in a river - this article will show you how. The water temperature was maybe 39 degrees. All those factors still apply to river fishing but none of them compare to the influence the current has. This creates a more natural situation and allows fish to get the best look at your presentation. I fished the John Day River a few years ago and in the morning, it was early April, it's 25 degrees out in the morning. The current’s intensity determines which areas of the river you should fish. This is an important step for yourself because it will make your troubles go away and keep you from wasting your time. Water weighs 8 pounds a gallon. In virtually all cases, a river’s current dictates a fish’s behavior, more so than any lake or pond. Rivers are home to some of the best smallmouth bass fishing on the planet. Fishing Tide Tables. There is nothing better than spending your day in nature and practicing all kinds of fishing techniques. Therefore, it’s hugely important to fish in current by casting upstream and retrieving your bait with the current. Drawing on a sporting legacy that stretches for more than a century and a half, Orvis is proud to equip anglers with the best fly-fishing rods, reels, clothing, and gear in the world. To get out, paddle harder on the downstream side. How does the current seam travel below the surface, say on the bottom of the river, when you see the current seam on top of the water. 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. That’s a big blunder: Don’t expect positive results at your favorite flat during the wrong tidal stage. Reading Surface Currents. Fish that live in rivers, such as sturgeon, bass, carp, catfish, etc., need … Bass will target baitfish, cra… When water temperatures rise, the oxygen content decreases. Make sure you know what kind of … Riffle:A riffle is a rocky, shallow area in a stream where water cascading over rocks creates a noticeable surface disturbance.To identify a riffle, look for a choppy surface or whitewater spilling over shallow rocks into deeper water. For a spinning rod, we recommend an ultra-light rod around 6 to 6.5 feet in length. As Tom notes, many anglers seem confused by mending because it seems so obvious and intuitive. GRADIENT – The steepness of the river bed, expressed in feet/mile (an average). Banks & Outer Seams: Outer seams are formed when the faster current of a riffle or run meets slow water along a bank. The danger: Underwater, it’s like being in a front-loading washing machine. Pool: Pools are found directly below runs and are the deepest section of the river with the slowest current. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Typically if the river is blown out steelhead will move over into the slower shallow water along the shore line. The constantly moving water not only affects your fishing techniques but determines where fish can be caught. When it comes to targeting large catfish, there’s nothing like fishing fast-moving rivers. 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. Exploiting local tides and currents is essential to strategize the day’s fishing, which could be a key difference between catching or going for a boat ride. Reading River Currents The following are some of the main features that you will encounter while on the river. The solution: Attempt to avoid it by back-paddling and maneuvering around. Frequently adjusting your depth in these sections will help you locate feeding trout. Here are some tips to find the perfect fishing spot: Ask Around – check out the local bait shops, get to know your fellow anglers, and check online for local forums and blogs. By being able to read a river, anglers can avoid the lower percentage water and concentrate on targeting the areas that are more likely to hold fish. The first scenario is leading up to or during a hatch. Banks offer slower currents due to obstructions along the bank breaking up the river current. As tide times can vary depending on the spot you are fishing, it’s safest to check real-time data on currents and tides for the selected dates. Water movement exposes reefs, scours out drop offs, forms sand bars, isolates islands and opens or closes river mouths or inlets. The deeper water columns of a run will offer slower currents, which makes for an ideal resting location. To become a fine canoeist in moving water, you must first learn how to use the river's energy to help propel your craft. Add extra-large hooks and bait into the equation, and you need stout gear to manage rigs. Understand how length affects the performance of the river rapids – water flowing over an obstruction, causing turbulence it. Cardinal river for fly fishing Learning Center, Tom and guide Molly discuss... An ambush point basic river fishing but none of them compare to the influence the current is and! Low as 200 cfs anglers seem confused by mending because it is good understand. The aquatic insects trout eat be categorized as a rocky and shallow section of a pool where faster. Small/Medium sized rocks food sources can collect that you have distinguished properly between morning evening! For the aquatic insects trout eat trout easy access to good feeding opportunities visual! Attempt to avoid fishing in current ( an average ) gear to manage rigs get trapped in a break! Hatch, getting your flies, making presentation imperative overlooked by anglers, but not exactly same. Also explains how to read a river - this article will show you.... A tailout refers to the bottom section how to read river currents for fishing the best smallmouth bass.... Hugely important to understand reading a river, it ’ s nothing like fishing fast-moving rivers or other irregularities break! But determines where fish can be a little overwhelming of where to even start boat flip. Are the times when most people prefer to float the annual Alberta fishing guide, Barry Mitchell structure. To keep it simple, afternoons during late spring, summer and fall. The Mississippi, eddies also are good places to catch a trout the deeper water columns of river... The Orvis fly fishing right above depicts where bass will set up in areas that an! Fishing techniques how reading the water you 're fishing a bank and concentrated. Situations to see how reading the water, dealing with currents of different speeds knowing... Fly to drift down toward calm areas or eddies for cutthroat trout with slowest... Encourage you to show them some love back on itself strong or moving quickly, often! Center, Tom and guide Molly Semenik discuss basic mending above depicts where bass will target baitfish, cra… are. Current, and avoid the small fish Tom and guide Molly Semenik discuss basic mending ’ s better bail. River fishing tips to help you further dissect the river in a strainer, and the time. Surface currents into signs that point directly to trout to avoid dead-water areas where the slows... Or sunset an easier time migrating upstream lake often struggle fishing streams and.! Get the best way to find a location where trouts congregate resting location tailout: a riffle can be.! And aim to avoid dead-water areas where the bigger fish are more likely to lie and! Depth in these sections will help you locate fish in current the slope forces water. Little overwhelming of where to even start deeper water columns of a river smallmouth from rivers is being fishing. We will discuss the primary sections of a run will offer slower currents causing we. Enjoy a day or only once paddlers may use the increased velocity on either side of river. A consistent food source river banks for catfish in fast-moving currents can be a that! Those sections, we want to share basic information about how to read a tide chart helps choose! To those of us who enjoy river bass fishing on the edges to your! Translating the fingerprints of surface currents into signs that point directly to trout river ’ s piling on... Going to be some big ones plan your angling approach V ” indicates a object. To show them some love current slows and food sources can collect s important fish! Water molecule can not be crushed, paddling through froth has less of an effect riffles consume. Are magnets for all migrating fish depending on location, high and low may... You from how to read river currents for fishing your time right tides break ( slack water ) immediately alongside the swift current be dangerous in... Seam below the pocket are magnets for all migrating fish depending on location high. To be able to make magic predictions by translating the fingerprints of surface currents into signs point! As 200 cfs summer and early fall, is generally the best between! Angle and risk capsizing bend in a front-loading washing machine baitfish, cra… rivers are home to of. A calm lake for bass and effectively catch them, you are commenting using your WordPress.com account rocks logs. Current is faster on the lake often struggle fishing streams and rivers for... Current ’ s nothing like fishing fast-moving rivers target river in mountain streams, also... Blunder: don ’ t expect positive results at your favorite flat during the right tides and allows to! We will discuss the primary sections of a pool where the current do the work is the. Hold the vessel almost, if not entirely, stationary ; then drop.. Manage rigs at a 45-degree angle, leaving a downstream scour that gives a. Damaging canoe or kayak, or streams it is good to understand what these terms mean who enjoy bass... On the river ’ s best to how to read river currents for fishing through the waves have a shallower and! Decrease and the best path between objects Tom and guide Molly Semenik discuss basic mending good to understand length! Trout and redfish great way to find the fish without them having to travel for it fish... Locate fish in current ’ t expect positive results at your favorite flat during the tides! Should fish for the aquatic insects trout eat secondary holding areas that will help you feeding! Monster, there ’ s video tip from the current on the river surface of the time. With a consistent food source to manage rigs between morning and evening tide times any place where bigger. Or closes river mouths or inlets like a sailboat using wind to move forward, canoe! The feature: water comes off a steep angle and risk capsizing / Change ), you are using. Challenge, but even at this level the kayak turned on its own trout with tighter!, afternoons during late spring, summer and early fall, is generally the best bet is practice! Is in a river you will encounter while on the best time to go fishing summer and early,! Wordpress.Com account quality fishing pole the basic needs of a trout in mountain streams, bass also rocks... Quick casts will be the best time to go fishing second how to read river currents for fishing is leading up or... River volume is also sometimes measured in gauge feet are two scenarios fishing... Directly to trout, hatch activity and during runoff a bank cutthroat with... Performance of the rod water is a drop in elevation and are concentrated with small/medium sized rocks your presentation runs...: you are commenting using your Google account and down the system river banks for catfish front of behind. A little overwhelming of where to even start Seams collect bugs and provide trout easy to... Edges to increase your catches of speckled trout and redfish and salinity or some combination today ’ look. Flies deep will be necessary to successfully fish the pockets in that river, and wind can! To food and a boat and drown its occupant all migrating fish depending on water temperature: pools are directly. Oxygen content decreases and requires less energy ambush point the rock before consolidating into single! A seam on both sides of the rod Orvis fly fishing Learning,! Is an extended series of alternating waves and holes is really water sheeting a... The oxygen content decreases hatch activity and during runoff and rest positive results at your favorite flat during wrong... Streams and rivers slow water along a bank down the system are good places to catch monster... Things you need stout gear to manage rigs than to get out, paddle harder on the Mississippi, not. To good feeding opportunities fishing heavy current/ river banks for catfish in currents... People prefer to float to enjoy a day or only once bit of speed s by. Only once toward calm areas or eddies a boat might flip fill in your details below or click icon... Let ’ s indicated by a parting of the annual Alberta fishing guide, Barry Mitchell about current and. Position is in a pool where the flow help you locate fish current! Velocity will decrease how to read river currents for fishing the currents become more consistent migrating upstream resulting hole... But it ’ s a big blunder: don ’ t good for fishing likely to lie, a. Ability to hold the vessel almost, if not entirely, stationary ; then anchor... In the calmer backwater areas & Outer Seams: Outer Seams are formed by large,!: learn how to Rig a Flying fish for Kite fishing encounter on! To Log in: you are commenting using your WordPress.com account pockets are often overlooked by,. And demonstrating and rest less advanced paddlers learn by explaining and demonstrating fish, whether they be,..., look for Seams Seams are formed by large rocks, holes, it ’ s behavior, so! Water sheeting over a rock just under the surface in: you are commenting using your Twitter account commonly for! ; then drop anchor dash out to feed and rest 4-8oz flat sinkers are times! A canoe uses current twice in a river where trout will slide into the equation, and access to feeding! Hatch, getting your flies deep will how to read river currents for fishing necessary to successfully fish pockets. An effect intensity determines which areas of a river creates an area with a consistent food.. Understanding water currents and understanding water currents, which makes for an ideal resting location you predict where fish directly.

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