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Written by: Pete Danylewycz
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If it isn't the ocean or the lake you are trying to master, then it has to be the river. River fishing is one of the best environments to fish in. River fishing is home to many species which include walleye, salmon, trout and the occasional patrolling pike.  River fishing is mostly where you find prized game fish such as walleye riding the banks to salmon trekking there way to spawning grounds. There are a wide range of lures and methods to catch these river running fish.

Related: Bank Fishing Tips

River Fishing Basics

Know your river- Some rivers move faster than others and tides and currents can change on a dime. If you are not familiar with the area ask a local or a fellow angler at the boat launch.

Charge all equipment including your trolling motor battery if it hasn't been hot wired to your boats alternator. River currents can be strong and if your trolling motor can't pull you through you may as well pack up shop for the day.

Pack a lunch- River fishing can a long days work, rivers usually run for miles and can be home to the best fishing. with that being said stay hydrated, well fed and be sure to apply sunscreen.

Avoid urban river spots- Some decent fishing may be running through urban area and are recommended to be avoided for the most part due to poor water quality.

Power Dams- Some of the biggest and best fishing is around power dams, sea run fish get hung up and cant pass through making it a massive traffic jam for big game fish. Stay safe and keep an eye out for warning and danger signs.

River Fishing Tips and Techniques

Jigging the mouth of a river can bring an angler a big prized catch. This is an area where fish must pass through and often hang out to snack on bait fish. Be patient and you may find your self reeling in the big one.

Trolling river edges are home to many types of fish but there is one in particular we like to target; walleye. Walleye love to sit and take shade using the rivers edge.

Use the landscape- If the shoreline is steep or cliff like than chances are the river takes on those same characteristics. If the landscape shows gradual climbing then chances are you will encounter shallow waters while fishing.

Invest in trolling & charging equipment- as advised earlier, the river pushes and can be hard on your trolling equipment. If your thrust is too low chances are you battery life will run out quickly. If you know an electrician we recommend you asking him on how to hook up a solar charging mat to your trolling battery.

Trolling- Trolling is one of the most popular techniques when it comes to river fishing. Whether its downrigging or just throwing out a rapala this is the fastest and most efficient way to cover the most ground. Trolling bottom bouncers with worm harnesses, letting a rapala scatter around at mid level, or downrigging are great methods to catch a variety of species.

Talk to locals/fellow anglers- Asking a fellow angler on or off the boat may seem like a lost cause but sometimes the friendly ones share some great information. Fishing spots are like prized treasures so be grateful when someone tips you off on a spot or advises you to stay away from an area (give them some extra worms if you have them, anglers love extra worms).

Lake to Lake- Rivers in most cases carry water from one lake to another, with that being said the shorter the river the more chances you have to corner a fish on the move.

Bridge fishing- Usually fast moving and home to many species bridge fishing can be very interesting.


Being close to a major river in the great lakes we have mastered many areas along its path. We have seen many different types of fish and cant wait to see what else lies on it banks as well as channeled areas. many tournaments are held on rivers and they do so because of its ever changing underwater landscape.

About The Author
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. Whether he's casting a line in a quiet freshwater stream or battling a monster bass, fishing is his true passion.
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