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Reading the Stream for Fishing | Picking the Best Fishing Spots

How to read water when stream fishing

Almost anyone can cast a lure or bait into a glass like lake, but it takes a whole new mindset to read and approach stream fishing. In the northern US and Canada, streams can hold a variety of cold-water fish species, like trout, salmon, or grayling. These species look for highly oxygenated, cold water to feed on nymphs and other insects. Whether fly fishing or spin casting, the ability to read the water is critical to stream fishing success.

The Pool

The most relatable to a pond or lake, a pool is a slower section of water that is often deep. It likely can hold many fish, and is easier to fish than the faster part of the stream. However, a disturbance, like hooking a fish, can create such a ripple effect that the rest of the pool is busted and fish are not responsive. Often these slower sections of water are great areas to present dry flies as hatching insects will land on the calmer water. Fish also expend less energy as the current is not as strong.

The Riffle

A riffle is the complete opposite of the pool. Fast water in a usually shallow area, many cold water fish will move through these areas or tuck behind rocks and eddies to break up the stronger current. A faster water approach will need to be compensated during fishing. Often bringing a lure up through the riffle or floating a nymph down through can make it the most effective approach.

The Run

Deeper than a riffle, yet still fast a run can hold many fish. The approach to a run may require getting the lure or bait down deeper, though flies on top can still pull fish up off the bottom.

As you approach stream fishing, think about the different sections of water and how the techniques affect each.

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