The rivers across the United States offer anglers opportunities to catch an incredible variety of fish species. Containing species such as trout, salmon, bass, perch, pickerel, crappies, bluegills, catfish and eels, a river is a great venue to try your luck. The trick to river fishing is knowing where to drop your line to give you the best chance at successfully catching fish.
Structure in fishing terms means anything that provides a place for fish to hide. In a river, structures such as a bridge's foundation, boulders, sandbars, logs or downed trees all give fish a spot where they can stay out of the current and find food as well as feel safe. When scouting a river for potential fishing spots, always pay close attention to where the foundations of a bridge come down into the water. Behind and around this foundation, there will be fish. Likewise, large rocks cause the water to flow around them, which in turn will form a smallish area behind the boulder where the water is relatively calm. Fish love to occupy such spots, waiting for food to come to them. Underwater logs and trees that have fallen into the river also break up the current and offer cover to fish. Sandbars can create an area of calm water that fish will gladly take advantage of as well.
Drop-offs and Other Spots
Where a river turns from shallow water into significantly deeper water is called a drop-off. This is a favorite place for fish to congregate as the water becomes less tumultuous and food is swept from the shallow area and sinks right down into the deeper water, where fish will have a field day. Look for these drop-offs when fishing and cast into them, hoping to attract unwary fish that think your bait is just another gift from the shallow waters. Another wonderful place to fish in a river is where the waters undercut the river bank, causing what resembles a cave. Fish will find that an undercut affords them great protection from anything that might want to eat them from above, such as a heron or an osprey, and also keeps the sun out in the hot weather. Throwing your line towards an undercut might just reward you with a large fish. Overhanging trees are normally a place where fish will tend to spend much of their time. Besides the shade from the hot sun, the fish will crave the many insects that can drop from the tree. Never ignore a spot where there is a tree hanging out over the river.
As faster water in a river makes its way into slower water where there is a cove or an inlet oftentimes creates an eddy. The water becomes slower and begins to flow counter-clockwise like a large sluggish whirlpool. Fish will be found feeding here as the faster water brings food into the area and it is spun through the inlet by the current. Anywhere a brook or stream dumps into a river will hold fish, as they flock to these regions to take advantage of the food being swept into the river at that point. In the bend of a river, fish will know to look for food where the faster current is. This water will normally be on the outer portion of the bend, at the "elbow," and fish will swim there to grab whatever morsels they can. Waterfalls, no matter how small, make a hole at their base where the water is deeper and fish will find food plentiful there. If the weather is unusually hot and water levels in a river become low, the deeper pools will always hold fish as they will be cooler and have more food in them. Such pools will be easily identified as they will be nestled among rocks and boulders and water will be visibly flowing into them as the drought continues.