Go with the Flow

I’m a pond and small lake guy. That’s just where I gained the majority of my fishing experiences and thus, where I am most confident. Recently, I moved to the edge of the Appalachian Mountains.  Many of the fishing opportunities are streams, creeks, or rivers.  Water here moves. I’m used to reacting to swirls. But now, it is ALL swirls.

Standing on the bank of the Allegheny River, according to my rough calculations, in 7 seconds, the volume of a typical farm pond just rolled by. Now the river fish did not float downstream in the current, but technically, I am now casting into new water.

When fishing moving water, there are some things to keep in mind.

1) Fish have to be efficient. To conserve energy, they use eddies, pockets, and slack areas to rest. These places can be found below boulders, dams, or where tributaries join the flow.

2) If there is a hatch, the fish are going to take advantage of this opportunity. Pay attention to what is flying, swimming around you and adjust what you cast accordingly.

3) Things happen quickly with flowing water.  There is no buffer as with lakes. Rivers can rise within minutes because somewhere, perhaps miles upstream, it rained.  Key fish holding locations and water clarity can change in a short time.

4) When rigging, such as minnows or other live bait, allow for an upstream/downstream alignment, rather than sideways.

5) Further, obtaining movement will be easier; that crank bait is really going to dig and put on a show with much greater wobble because of the current, so you will not have to be as forceful with your retrieve.

6) Wear polarized glasses.  Even when sight fishing in shallow, clear water, the flow can play tricks with your vision. The shadow of a fish may be more evident than the actual fish.  Plus, it is embarrassing to sneak up breathlessly, then spend a half hour methodically and carefully casting to what turns out to be just the dark edge of a rock.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.