Rivers are the lifeblood for farmers, communities and fisheries alike all across this great nation. They supply water for agriculture, to drink and for supporting all manner of aquatic life, including many popular angling species. In areas where rivers are the only game in town, anglers usually fish them throughout the changing seasons. Yet where rivers and reservoirs abound, most river fishing tends to occur in spring and fall. The rest of the year, anglers flock to more expansive open water or ice, leaving rivers comparatively vacant and under fished.
Along their courses, rivers vary by stretch, adopting the character of the surrounding landform. Some stretches provide better habitat for particular species, while other sections favor a different mix. In some cases, it might be walleyes or sauger. In others, largemouths vs smallmouth bass. Pike vs muskies, carp and catfish, crappies and bluegills. Usually, it’s mixed combinations of several predominant species.
On thing is for sure, because rivers gather nutrients along their course, they are often quite fertile compared to lakes and support dense populations of fish that grow surprisingly large. As such, they are some of the best trophy waters around.
In all cases, river fishing is a visual experience, where telltale current seams on the surface indicates what lurks below. Active fish often line up along the knife edge between calmer and swifter water, positioned to intercept food sources as they wash downstream. A mad dash into the fray to grab a meal, followed by a quick return to areas where they needn’t fight they force of the current, takes advantage of the buffet that current delivers.
Large, deep rivers with significant flow are the province of big boats. Smaller, shallower rivers by comparison are better suited to jon boats, canoes, kayaks, wading, and simply fishing from shore. As such, they require little investment in tackle and equipment to fish them effectively. A lazy day spent on a shaded river bank waiting for a bite is mighty tempting when the weather is hot and the bite is even hotter.