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WHY RIVER FISHING?

If you think you might like to be the person standing in the middle of this stream (or the dozens of others like it) catching fish then read on.

    Like most anglers, my introduction to fishing did not occur in a bass boat. I developed my love for fishing (or "addiction", as my wife calls it) on ponds and creeks using cane poles and worms before "graduating" to a Zebco 33 and a few lures. At a young age, I learned the value of a good cast tight to cover and that fish bit better when I was quiet. I learned that wading could get me to the best holes where the dumb fish lived and later how to scull a canoe with little more than a whisper. I soon figured out that I caught more fish when things were peaceful than when my friends were doing cannonballs in the swimming hole nearby. I learned that fishing was simple.

    As we grow older, our lives invariably grow more complicated, and our hobbies tend to do the same. The national outdoor press sends us implied messages that to be real fishermen we need bass boats, dozens of rods, and thousands of lures. We take the bait, and find ourselves surrounded by thousands of dollars worth of tackle and equipment, staring at electronic depthfinders, and searching for submerged brush piles and humps nowhere near the bank. We wait in lines at boat ramps and dodge waterskiers and pleasure boaters as we pursue fish that can tell us every lure that was on sale at Bass Pro Shops the week prior because they have seen them all. We see more people while fishing on the weekends than we do while working all week and have more technology in our boats than we do in our houses. A lot of us go through all this to "get away from it all".

You just don't get to see beautiful water like this middle Georgia creek from a bass boat, much less catch fish from it!

    I fish rivers and streams almost exclusively now. My "bass rig" cost less than $2,000 and fits in the back of my truck. I currently own two fishing rods, but am planning on adding a third. My tackle box is one of those plastic two-tray jobs by Plano that cost $7.95. My hobby has grown less expensive, more addictive, and far less frustrating. I can go fishing on Memorial Day or 4th of July weekend and never see a waterskier or another fisherman. Every trip I take holds the promise of an adventure around the next bend, and the wildlife I encounter is of a far different sort than the "wildlife" found in Cocktail Cove on Lake Lanier. I doubt I catch more fish than the next guy, but I catch far more than I used to. The fish I catch are less educated, meaner, and far more athletic than lake fish, because they live in a constantly moving world that will not allow them to get lazy.

    Look, river fishing can be a hassle, especially when you are just starting out. The water is always too fast or too slow, too muddy or too clear, too high or too low. Launching my canoe is often a hassle (not many improved boat ramps on creeks), and I've unintentionally gone swimming more than a few times. I've been caught in dozens of thunderstorms, heat waves, and cold fronts because there's not much you can do about it when you are halfway down an eight mile float with nothing but a canoe and a paddle. I get skunked a lot, too.

    But for me and a growing number of anglers, all the hassles are worth it. River fish hold in obvious places, and after a few trips, anybody can tell good spots from bad ones. Most stream fish live close to the bank, so a well placed cast with the right lure is often rewarded. Many rivers never get real deep, and few fish (other than catfish) ever come out of more than six feet of water. Dragging a Carolina rig across a point in 20 feet of water is a thing of my past. Bank-beaters like myself tend to do a lot better in rivers than on reservoirs in mid-July, and once you set the hook on a river bass you will not believe that it is the same species as the ones you are used to catching. The difference in fighting ability is that dramatic.

    Now I don't expect everybody out there to trade in their bass boats in for canoes, nor would I want them to (I like my fishing holes uncrowded). Just like some of us enjoy different types of food and clothing, we also enjoy different styles of angling. River fishing is not for everybody, but it works for me. If you've taken the time to find this site and read this far, my guess is that it will work for you, too.

Turkey hunters rarely get this close during turkey season, but a float trip on the Yellow River got me within range. I promptly shouldered my paddle and fired on this hen, but she lived to tell about it.

 
 

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