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How to Fish a Stream

Before fishing a stream, look carefully at its physical characteristics. Fish will be most drawn to those areas that best permit them to feed, reproduce, and survive.


  • Step 1: Look for rapids Look for shallow, fast-moving water that runs over rocks and boulders. Known as rapids or riffles, these are prime locations for game fish.
  • TIP: Expect to find trout, steelhead, salmon, and grayling in cold water streams. Bass, walleye, catfish, and carp prefer warm stream water.
  • Step 2: Locate deep pools Locate deep pools of water downstream from rapids. There will be a slow to moderate current there. Deep water means safety to fish, and as the current enters the pool, it brings food for the fish.
  • Step 3: Look below dams or waterfalls Explore the bases of dams or waterfalls. Falling water excavates a holding area for fish where they can wait for the current to bring them food.
  • Step 4: Look for reduced current Look for places where the stream's current is reduced -- at a point of land, an island, or at a sharp bend. Fish position themselves at the fronts and backs of eddies that form at such locations.
  • Step 5: Look for undercut areas Explore undercut areas along the banks of the stream. The undercut areas also attract fish.
  • FACT: The U.S. spends about $1 billion each year on stream restoration.

You Will Need

  • Rapids
  • Pools
  • Dams or waterfalls
  • Reduced currents
  • Undercut areas

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