Fishing In Current: Tips, Lures, Techniques

It seems like you either know how to fish current or you don’t. River systems across the country are filled with some of the strongest fish you can find.

Water in lakes fluctuate throughout the seasons, but changes are normally slow. River fish, on the other hand, are constantly fighting to survive. A thunderstorm 50 miles away can transform a trickling stream into a fast flowing river overnight.

Rivers, and streams are constantly changing and you’ll have to react fast to face ever-changing conditions. What works today probably won’t work next week. So how do you actually fish in currents?

Fishing in Current

Before I start fishing, I like to take a couple minutes to read the current. Try to get a feel for how the water flows and how you’re going to present the lure.

You need to be able to present your bait naturally through the strike zone. You’ll have to control both the movement and presentation speed.

Fish Runs Before Eddies

When figuring out my approach I like to target two main areas. I’ll attack the tops of runs followed by the backs of eddies.

Actively feeding fish are always going to be sitting in fast-moving water. They sit in those runs ahead of all the other bass waiting for their prey. Aggressively feeding fish at the top of the run will be the easiest targets.

When going after actively feeding fish I like to use a lure with a lot of flash. I’ll normally go for a buzzbait(My Favorite Buzzbait) or large flashy spinnerbait(Heres a Big Flashy Spinnerbait).

If you don’t have much luck working the runs shift your focus behind the break. Transition to those fish hanging out behind boulders and laydowns. I like to start by fishing a fast moving bait like a spinnerbait, buzzbait and crankbait, and follow that up with a slower bottom presentation(Dropshot or Ned/Neko Rig).

Current Fishing Tips

Fish are so reliant on the current that you’d be stupid not to learn a few tips. Current cools and oxygenates the water while bringing food along downstream.

If you fish rivers and streams you need to learn how current affects fish behavior. Getting the details right will either make or break your day.

Here are a few of my favorite tips to fish strong river currents.

1) Fish Face Into The Current

Doesn’t matter what species you’re going after fish always face into the current. If they didn’t face the current they would be swept away downstream.

Facing upstream will also supply them with a constant supply of food. Current brings food downstream so naturally fish are going to be facing into the current.

For a natural presentation cast upstream and retrieve your bait with the current. Fishing against the current is just going to result in missed strikes as the bait moves quickly past.

2) Look For a Change in Flow

Fish might always face into the current, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a break. Look for those little seams in the waterway where the current is slow.

Any object that juts into the water is going to slightly block the current. Try casting into those little eddy’s where the current sweeps around an object. That’s where they like to holdout and wait for insects to float downstream.

Learn how to work the current by casting upstream and letting your bait move naturally through the water. Cast into the current and bring your bait back.

3) Fish The Upstream Side

When fishing a piece of structure or cover try to fish the upstream side. Too many anglers focus on the wrong side of cover. Even if there are fish on the downstream side they aren’t actively feeding.

Fish on that side are going to be much more aggressive going after anything that floats by. They want the first shot and will strike anything that move.

Fish on the other side of the structure are trying to relax and conserve energy. Unless you smack him in the face he probably won’t strike.

4) Stay Patient

If you’re fishing on a lake you can quickly figure out where fish are hiding. Make a few casts and if you don’t get a bite you move on. When fishing a river it’s going to take a while to get a bite.

Remember that you’re fishing moving water with a limited strike zone. Fish are just chillin behind rocks and in cracks not really actively feeding. You’ll have to run your bait through a few times before you get a strike.

5) Bass Almost Always Find a Break

Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted Bass are almost always going to find some type of break to position themselves behind. Their heads are going to be facing into the water flow looking for food while staying out of the constant current.

Position yourself so that you can cast above the break and have the current drag your bait through their space. That’s what they’re used to seeing and they’ll almost always bite.

6) Keep an Eye on The Water Level

When thinking about current most of us think of the traditional current, but you also have a current as the water level rises and falls. As the water level falls they almost always head to deeper structure. That could be grass, timber, rocks or manmade objects.

As the water level rises they start to scatter making it difficult to pattern. You’ll have to move fast and fish everything you can.

Recent Content