Reading Rivers and Streams

Discussion in 'Outdoor Articles' started by DeerHunter01, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. DeerHunter01

    DeerHunter01 New Member

    Reading Rivers and Streams

    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 eight months 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 20 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 few years between Jim Noles and Doc Lange and myself 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.

    A lot can be learned from the past for all of us, and implement it 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.

    Rivers don’t get fished as much as they should. Many anglers feel intimidated by water that won’t stand still.

    Unless they’ve been straightened by man-made excavation, all rivers share a basic shape. Although the width of their banks may differ, rivers wander back and forth in 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 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 provides good fishing for Catfish. They will 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 catfish.

    The most crucial skill in reading a river is the ability to recognize feeding paths, which occur where slow current joins 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 “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 a lot of talk by fishermen 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’s and drift net’s 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’s 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.

    I will say one more thing about catfishing and catching your fish, bait presentation is very important for you catching that fish, I will do another article on it later.

    Eric Simcox
    BOC Staff
    Good Luck in 2008 :wink: