River fishing offers fun challenge

When most folks think of all the great fisheries that we have here in Northwestern Ontario, it’s the big lakes that usually come to mind first.
Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, and Lac Seul all are great bodies of water with a variety of great fishing opportunities.
Of course, there are countless others.
But there also are some great rivers across our region that offer excellent fishing options for most of the species that we like to fish for here (except maybe lake trout, which need deep, cool water only found in lakes to survive our warm summers).
Over the years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time fishing for walleye and bass on the Rainy River and have had many memorable days fishing for both.
Then earlier this week, I spent my first day ever fishing for bass on the Winnipeg River, just north of Kenora, and had one of the best days I can remember in a long time.
The boat launch is 10 minutes from my house and yet I had never fished out there before.
It was a lot of fun to fish some new water, as well as to fish a little bit differently than I would on a lake because of all the moving water.
Across Sunset Country, there are many rivers of all sizes with great fishing. The English River rolls through a bunch of good lakes and is arguably one of the best walleye fisheries in the world.
I can remember some great shore fishing for walleye at numerous spots along the Wabigoon River, north and east of Kenora, when I was a kid. It eventually dumps into the English River.
Regardless of which species of fish you want to target, there are river fishing principles that can be applied to all of them. Breaks in the current (in the form of wing dams, shoals, or boulders) can be home to all species of fish waiting for food to drift past.
At times, weeds or other cover like logs can hold fish, especially in an area with water flowing past.
Water levels fluctuate more rapidly on rivers and when it moves one way or the other (up or down), it can influence fish movements. Typically in falling water, anglers want to move away from the bank into deeper water.
When water is rising many fish, especially bass, will move extremely shallow.
Fish in moving water like to wait for food to drift past them so as anglers, we always should try to fish our lures with the current, rather than against it, so that they are more lifelike in the water.
It can be hard to keep lures, especially jigs, down in the water column when you fish them against the current. This can make it tough to catch bottom-loving fish like walleyes because your jig won’t stay close to the bottom.
Next week, I’ll be doing some more river fishing on the Rainy River. Scott Dingwall and I have been teaming up at the annual International Falls Bass Championship every August since the tournament started back in 2005.
This is a unique event because it puts anglers on the U.S. side of Rainy Lake for a day and on the Rainy River for a day.
Over the years, Scott and I have had some great days fishing on the river and we’re looking forward to getting back out there again!

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