River fishing is great fishing, but it can be challenging and very dangerous. Before you head out to the river make sure you know the species of fish you’re after. The type of fish will make a difference in the bait and gear you’ll want to use. If you’re unsure, check with your local Fish and Wildlife office or your local bait shop. As a general proposition, if you’re fishing for Cat Fish try chicken liver; pan fish (Blue Gill, Perch, Crappie) use live worms; Walleye and Pike tip your jig with a live minnow; Bass and Northern Pike typically require spoon/spinners.
The best time to fish is in the early morning and late afternoon. This is for two reasons: first, fish typically feed at specific times of the day, and secondly, fish have no eyelids making them sensitive to the harsh daylight and thus, retreat into shaded and remote covered areas. Most of the water of a river will not have fish in it. Fish gravitate to structure – under bridges, in riffles, near rocks, hard bottoms, bays and curves in the river. Try casting in these areas, if possible.
The easiest place to locate fish is below a damn, but it is also the most dangerous. Never get too close above a damn in your boat. There is always the possibility that the motor won’t start and you’ll go over the edge. Conversely, never get too close below the damn. You can unexpectedly find yourself in a ‘wash machine effect’ where you’re in the water and its turning you over and over. A cubic yard of water weighs 1500 lbs., and if you’re caught in the roll without a life jacket it could be fatal.
Always wear your life jacket. There are countless fishing deaths on the water each year that could be prevented by wearing a life jacket. Additionally, if you’re wearing waders use two belts to keep the water out. A soft creel draped across your shoulder is handy for keeping your fishing equipment dry and safe. As always, make sure you have the required permits for the season, species of fish and river.
Most people think the best place to catch a fish is in a river in an uninhabited, remote area. This is not necessarily true. There has been a resurgence in ‘city fishing’ due to environmental efforts to maintain clean water standards. This means if you live in Chicago, Miami or several other big cities the freshest fish may not be at the local fish market but waiting for you in the river. To many fisherwomen, the experience of fishing is relaxing and peaceful. This may be the perfect antidote to a stressful day at the office. “She can bring home the fish, and fry it up in the pan, and never ever forget she’s an … Adventure Woman.”