River Fishing Tips

The goal of this page is to educate both novice and expert fishermen on how to improve their river fishing skills. Instead of just making a huge list of tips, we designed this section to first educate you on the basics of river fishing. We then follow up with some of the best river fishing tips and basic river fishing safety information. These tips, combined with our other tips that are specific to certain species of fish, will help make you a better fisherman.


The Basics of Fishing in a River

River FishingRiver fishing is the method of fishing in a body of water that is defined by science to be a river. A river is a body of water that flows towards another river, ocean, lake or sea. You can fish a river from the shore, by wading or if the size and depth of the river make it possible, via a boat. A wide variety of different species of fish (including popular game fish) can be found inhabiting rivers or at least navigating them in order to reach spawning grounds or to catch fish when they migrate. Fishermen will need to use specific types of fishing rigs or bait casting methods due to the natural movement of a river. Rivers are used by invasive species to invade other bodies of water making it vital for humans to never introduce any foreign fish or bait fish to rivers.

Fishing in a RiverRiver fishing has a bad rap in some areas, especially rivers that run through urban areas. This is due to pollution and lack of water clarity. While pollution is an issue in urban areas, water clarity is just the result of sediment and mud being brought up from the movement of the water. Fishermen should always be aware of any advisories that are made by local or state agencies regarding the consumption of fish in specific rivers. Many rivers have dams and water locks that help control the flow of water. These structures can be a great place for large fish to congregate because of the water depth and temperature.

River Fishing Tips, Tricks and Techniques

Fishing in a river is a great way to catch fish. By using our tips and techniques below you’ll be able to improve your success. These tips aren’t specific to any specific species of fish but rather strategic ways to fish in a river.

  • Get a Pair of Polarized Glasses – Depending on what river you plan on fishing in you may be able to see through the water with a good pair of polarized glasses. By being able to visually locate fish you can prevent a lot of wasted time searching for them.
  • Bottom Bounce Live Bait – An effective method for catching fish in a river is to use live bait and bounce it off the bottom. There are several types of fishing rigs that can accomplish this and will help present your bait more naturally. We recommend using the Carolina Rig. Also, make sure you bounce your live bait with the current and never against it.
  • Find the River’s Backwaters – Some of the most popular game fish that can be found in a river aren’t too fond of heavy currents. Largemouth bass are a great example of game fish that will inhabit backwater creeks that break off the river and reenter it downstream.
  • Find the Weeds – If you can locate a calm area of a river that has weed growth then you’ve most likely found a prime fishing location. Since weeds aren’t very common in rivers, fish will group together in calm areas of the river with weed growth. Don’t be shocked to find a monster largemouth bass hiding in one of these areas.
  • Fish Near the Islands – A lot of rivers will have islands in them and the slack area of these islands can hold some nice fish for you to catch. Be careful trying to wade out to any river islands because drop offs can appear out of nowhere and send you and your tackle downriver.
  • Talk to the Locals – The local bait and tackle shop or even fishermen along the shore can give you some great insight on what the best methods are for fishing in a nearby river. The actual location of fish in a river can be greatly affected by the weather and the moon. Locals who often fish in the river will be able to educate you on the best time and location to fish.

Best Lures for River Fishing

ProductRating /5
Terminator Pro JigTerminator Pro Jig5
Strike King SpinnerbaitStrike King Spinnerbait4.5
South Bend Kastaway Trophy SpoonSouth Bend Kastaway Trophy Spoon4.5
Zoom Bait Curlytail GrubZoom Bait Curlytail Grub4.5

River Fishing Safety

When you’re fishing in a river you’ll want to setup basic safety measures to ensure your safety and the safety of others around you. You should know how to swim or fish with someone who is able to swim. If you’re wading in a river make sure to use a wader belt to prevent water from filling up your waders if you fall over. If you’re using a boat then make sure to follow all local and state boating rules and regulations and remember that the depth and speed of a river can change quickly. Always check to see if there are any advisories regarding the consumption of fish in the river you plan on fishing in.


River Fishing Additional Resources

  • Fishing Rivers & Streams – This hardcover book has step by step instructions that will help you take your skills to the next level. The illustrations are worth the price alone.