Reading Rivers and Streams

Discussion in 'All Catfishing' started by DeerHunter01, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. DeerHunter01

    DeerHunter01 New Member

    Messages:
    2,113
    State:
    Kentucky
    For the past few years fishing Rivers and streams for Catfish have had its ups and downs with me.

    Many times when I fish a river system I spend a good part of the times trying to read the water current and current seams. I feel this is the main issue for fishing catfish in general. I use my fish finder 99% of the time in locating fish on the river bottoms, but I also look for spots that would be catfish type areas. when I find them I slow the boat way down to a idle and search on the graph for the arches.

    About a week ago we had high waters here in the rivers and so much structure floating on top it made it impossible to fish the outside bends and locations where I knew the catfish would be hiding behind, so it forced me to fish on the inside of the bends which I don't do too often. On pulling into one of the spots I found a nice current seam just where the break of the bend had started, and I found two fish laying right on the bottom of the river tucked down tight to the bottom. Both fish were caught a 30# and a 20# blue after 45 minutes of setting up on both of them in 21 foot of water.

    Why does these current seams seem to hold fish, well the past week between myself and Jim Noles and Doc Lange talking about this, when water is high sometimes these fish will hunker down and be covered with mud all over there belly's when they are caught like they are trying to rest and not fight the wild waters and if you don't put the bait in there face your not going to get them.

    How many of you went trout fishing and was standing in the wild brook trout stream with your fly rod in hand watching for the current breaks, how many times did you see that fat brook trout or brown trout laying right out in the stream where the current was flowing fast. Most of the times you would see them behind a rock or a tree limb where the water is broke with the tip of there head sticking out waiting for the big old streamer or fly or minnow floating past, as they dart out and grab it and retreat back to there locations.

    Alot can be learned from the past from all of us and put into the cat fishing method that we use today. If you sit and watch a stream near your house and watch the current breaks and swirls you may just learn a hole lot on your own river system. watching the flow and how it banks off of objects and how it affects on bends in the stream and what one rock the size of a basket ball will do to the water flow.

    How do we use this for our own cat fishing methods, well one thing is when you are in your boat looking for spots you need to be thinking of that old trout stream and how objects laid and how the water hit it and where was the current seams. If you are looking for the active fish that is hungry then these fish will be lurking in these areas the same as the feeding trout. One thing we need to remember also is fish do feed on different food year round, when your not getting hits all day is it there not feeding or have they changed in food habits this week.

    James Noles found a couple of articles on current breaks in streams and rivers that I found very interesting that some could get alot of information out of. as follows:

    (Rivers don’t get fished as much as they should. Many anglers feel intimidated by water that won’t stand still and therefore congregate on lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

    If you develop some basic “reading” skills, however, you’ll find rivers far less perplexing. For several years I’ve fished rivers and streams almost exclusively and have enjoyed uncrowded angling for walleyes, catfish, bass, pike and crappies. Here’s how to expand your angling repertoire to include moving waters.)


    ( Unless they’ve been straightened by man-made excavation, all rivers share a basic shape. Although the width of their meanders may differ, rivers wander back and forth in a succession of S-shaped curves.The river’s main current sweeps along the outside bends and disperses across the river’s midsection in the straightaway between bends.

    The river’s deepest water will be found on the outside bends, where the full force of the current scours deep holes. This is where fish in that area of the river will stay most of the time, whether feeding or not. Often the outside bend will have a steep bank. On many rivers, engineers install rock rip rap to curb erosion on the outside bends. Rip rap frequently provides good fishing for small mouth bass, white bass and walleyes. Catfish will also use rip rap areas during their spawning season. Where rip rap is not installed, erosion may undercut mature trees and topple them into the water, creating ideal habitat for crappies, catfish or pike. )



    To keep from posting the hole article on the site I will just show you this much of it, but found this article very interesting, like this part of it.
    (The most crucial skill in reading a river is the ability to recognize feeding lanes, which occur where slow current adjoins faster current. All species of river game fish seek places where current is slow, but where faster currents are quickly accessible. By holding in slow current, a fish minimizes the energy it must expend to hold its position. And by remaining near faster water, the fish maintains access to the river’s “conveyor belt” of food. )

    I have meet a couple of fishermen that only fish dams and I mean right up against them in the most dangerous locations that they can be by anchoring up and fishing seams and holes in the water so to speak where these fish find that they don't have to fight to stay there and they just feed all day long in one spot , these locations have been very good for huge fish.

    The main secret is finding the fish first, If you find there holding spots while feeding then you should be in like flint, now its up to you to drop that bait into there face. I see alot of talk on the site about fishing line , hooks, and bait and so on, but hardly ever see anything on fishing current and seams in the water probably the most important issue we need to catch a fish.

    As the summer grows on us the heat will set in and the water will slow way down, this is more important then anything for current then, If you set out your drift bucket and drift net and they sit straight up and down with no current then you need to be looking for current, where are you going too find any on this river system ? Well all river or most have dam's that might be where you need to look, but I would not get so close to give me or my fishing partners and thoughts of having a emergency. you can find current seems back from the dam some, don't risk your life or your Buddy's for a fish, its just not worth it.

    I think this is a issue that should be talked about on the current breaks and locations in rivers and streams if we are going to catch these fish were after.


    D/H
     
  2. Netmanjack

    Netmanjack New Member

    Messages:
    3,734
    State:
    Ohio
    DH, what an outstanding article!
    It has me thinking that I myself, have been in the brush and cover of my minds river, and need to start thinking in a slower flow, nearer the information conveyor belt, ie current breakthroughs in knowledge.
    I know that I will definitely begin utilizing the information spelled out in this insightful article to my advantage, and start fishing more productive water.
    Thank you !
     

  3. crazy

    crazy New Member

    Messages:
    2,090
    State:
    Kansas CIty, MO
    Very well done DH. Also I would like to point out don't be afraid to fish right up a long the bank when the water is high and muddy. Them cats like to go to a little cleaner water some times. There is also less current there.
     
  4. Arkie55

    Arkie55 New Member

    Messages:
    669
    State:
    Mississippi
    DH,
    your post is right on the money. Current and current seams are very important to successful river fishing. Reading the river is something that must me learned and watching a small creek or small river is a quick way to do just that as you mentioned about the trout streams. All rivers are pretty much the same except for size. On a small stream or river the ripple, hole, and run is easy to see and understand. On larger rivers their harder to see and locate. Good electornics are really helpful on larger rivers. Outside bends are always fish holding havens. The toppled trees carried down river during high water flows will usually lodge and hang up on the outside bends. Couple this with the scowered holes and you have a fish holding hotel. The woody structure stacked up in these outside bends divert the strong current and create exactly what you described. Slow current right next to faster current and therefore an outstanding fishing loction. Great post.
     
  5. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    State:
    TN
    Then why did you have to steal my fish truck? LOL Good article Eric!!
     
  6. pursuing_cats

    pursuing_cats New Member

    Messages:
    247
    State:
    Clarksville,Tennessee
    DH, that is a fine article and I appreciate it. Being that I and two other BOC brothers are getting ready to hit the Cumberland next week this article will serve us well. We are just getting into this catfishing really heavy and now you have given us enough information for us to get on the river and use it to our advantage in our pursuit of the All Mighty Catfish. Thanks again.
     
  7. DeerHunter01

    DeerHunter01 New Member

    Messages:
    2,113
    State:
    Kentucky
    Last year in October, I was fishing some good structure here on the Ohio River and made a post to such, the water currents had just picked up for fall time and the river was starting to come up a bit. Here is the fish finder on the structure that I was fishing maybe some of this will show you how the fish get in behind the current and hold in place.

    # 1. Will show you the fish I found just before I caught my 48.11 Pound flathead out of this hole here. This photo was taken off the fish finder 10 Minutes prior to me catching him. It shows good detail of the fish sitting in behind the roots of a tree, and for the most part 90% of them are not scaled fish. My thoughts when I seen it was that is Flatheads laying on the bottom in this deeper hole in the middle of the day. 1:00PM in the afternoon.

    # 2. This is the same hole just turned the boat around and went back over them, just too many fish in one hole..(lol) But its a better close up showing no echo's off of most of the fish.

    # 3. This picture was just about 20 foot behind the trees sticking out of the water and I had a boat go by and rocked the boat when I took the picture, it shows the fish but in jagged lines when this happens.
     

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  8. DeerHunter01

    DeerHunter01 New Member

    Messages:
    2,113
    State:
    Kentucky
    # 4. Gives you some details of these fish how there laying next to the bottom of the river.

    # 5. Looks like a good tree stump that I caught the fish off of with roots, this shows the front edge of it showing air coming off the tree with alot of bait intermixed and also shows some feeding fish off the side.

    #6. This one here is one off the Green river the other night when the water was coming hard down the river if you notice the fish sitting right on the back side of the stump staying out of the current flow, he almost looks as if he is part of it, then right behind him is another fish suspended just off the bottom but the structure in front of it has the current blocked by the looks of it, We were on our way back to the boat ramp when I seen this or I would of fished these fish showing here.
    The first fish on the left is showing a bow echo off of it, that tells me it has scales.
     

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  9. DeerHunter01

    DeerHunter01 New Member

    Messages:
    2,113
    State:
    Kentucky
    Picture # 7 .
    Here is the most of the structure you see here in this Photo and the shots 1-6 is taken in these trees.
     

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  10. paleocaver

    paleocaver New Member

    Messages:
    391
    State:
    USA
    DH in one of the posts above you say, refering to Picture 6:

    "The first fish on the left is showing a bow echo off of it, that tells me it has scales."

    Could you please explain that a little more? Is it actually possible to discern scaley fish vs catfish on a fishfinder. What do you mean by bow echo?

    I have a not-so-great fishfinder (very low power and resolution) and have been debating buying a better one. One that shows arches (true sonar) vs the silly fish symbols.

    Thanks
     
  11. DeerHunter01

    DeerHunter01 New Member

    Messages:
    2,113
    State:
    Kentucky
    paleocaver

    Let me do this one first so you can get on the same line as me, take a look at Picture Number # 1.

    If you look at the fish at 25 feet you will notice a pencil line drawn off the back side of it, that is a echo effect you get when a fish has scales, now look down thru the rest of the fish in # 1 . 35 foot and 37 foot is showing the same thing, now the fish that is not showing that have to be non-scaled fish, what fish do not have scales on them, One a catfish , Two a paddlefish, not to many that I can think of right off the top of my head right now. Now we have limited down the fish we are looking for, so now we need to look at current holding to the bottom, Flatheads lay on the bottom and feed, daytime visit deep holes then move to shallow in the evening just before dark, so now you can set up on there running path to where they feed if you find them in the daytime like this.

    Now look at Picture number # 6 you will see the fish on the left has a fine pencil line coming off the left side of it, so I assume its got scales so I shy away from this fish, and target them other two, the most important fish and nice size is the one laying on the stump.

    I hope this helps you. Remember guys if your fish finder does not have the watts you might not get these kind of images on it, most likely not.
     
  12. poopdeck [patrick]

    poopdeck [patrick] New Member

    Messages:
    1,215
    State:
    ofallon il
    I fish the mississippi river right by where the missouri joins. Your right there has not been enough talk on the current breaks. They change a lot here according to the river level. I/m always watching and adjusting where to throw my line trying to anticipate where its going to end up. I/ve know about the current breaks for years. I guess I just assumed every one else did. Any way you wrote a great piece my hats off to you
     
  13. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    State:
    TN
  14. DeerHunter01

    DeerHunter01 New Member

    Messages:
    2,113
    State:
    Kentucky
    I got your logs buoyant, you better be careful or maybe I will leave that Truck up here all summer, Hmm!! just remembered I don't have to worry after me and Pete slipped you that Little saying over your fishing rods, your done for the year..
     
  15. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    State:
    TN
    You can download a very good PDF file of this article here.

    Why am I being so nice here? :confuse: I coulda edited all those fish for you. But did I? No! And look at the abuse I have to take!! LOL
     
  16. catfishcrazee

    catfishcrazee Member

    Messages:
    50
    State:
    illinois
    thanks for the detailed post dh. very good and useful info. this site is gr8.
     
  17. caatstalker

    caatstalker New Member

    Messages:
    265
    State:
    oklahoma
    shucks now i have to find a new trick , every one knows now lol great job
     
  18. paleocaver

    paleocaver New Member

    Messages:
    391
    State:
    USA
    DH:
    Thanks for the follow-up. I definitely will be getting a higher wattage fish finder.
     
  19. Doyle

    Doyle New Member

    Messages:
    582
    State:
    Illinois
    Great post, I learned a lot, thank you for all that work.
     
  20. jim

    jim New Member

    Messages:
    2,579
    State:
    Jacksonville NC
    Well if you ever had any questions about LOWRANCE,high power and increased definition there are your answers.Beautiful shots and excellent interpretations of 40 old tires I put on the bottom as fish structure and to lure competing fisherman away from the real holes!!!!!:cool2: :roll_eyes: Just kidding.Great job should send everyone rushing out to get a new finder.To bad you didn't split screen and zoom.Thanks for the info and thanks to Bryan for putting it in the library.:big_smile: