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Stream fishing for beginners

August 27, 2013

By Chris Erwin

I was asked the other day what the difference between a creek, stream or river was. In layman terms, a creek is smaller than the stream it runs into and a stream ends up converging with a river. I’m sure we could have a deep involved discussion where we might come to a better definition. However, for this article let’s agree that a creek is a little smaller than a stream and a stream is a little smaller than a river, knowing you can most likely come up with an example that would contradict that description.

It’s becoming the time of the year that getting in to your favorite creek, river or stream days are numbered. If the trend continues and water temperatures fall into the 60s, the water will become too cold.

I know from the letters I’m getting, that many of you don’t have a boat and you enjoy fishing from the bank or like to wade in your favorite stream. If you happen to be someone who is learning, and you’re starting out by fishing from the bank or getting in the water and wading, it might be a good time to go over a few tips that can make your trip more fun and successful.

If you plan to fish from the bank and it’s private land, you need to get permission to cross the landowner’s property. Like hunting, don’t ride fences down or leave gates open. Never litter or leave trash along the stream, pack out your waste and try to follow any request by landowners.

A few of author Chris Erwin's favorite baits for fishing creeks and streams. Paired these with an ultra-light spinning rod. (Photo by Chris Erwin)

A few of author Chris Erwin’s favorite baits for fishing creeks and streams. Paired these with an ultra-light spinning rod. (Photo by Chris Erwin)

When you stream fish, it’s a good idea to take only what you need as far as tackle, especially if you are going to wade or use a tube. Unless you’re going to be fishing muskie streams, you need to think small and use light tackle. It’s also a good idea to use a short rod. This may be different than what you would use if you’re in a boat. Over hanging trees make long rods difficult to use. It can ruin a good time if you’re hanging your rod in the trees every cast. Short light action spinning gear is a good choice.

It’s also a good idea to put some new line on your rod and carry an extra spool if you have one. You never know when you may need to strip off some line.

If you plan to wade and you’re not using waders, you need to think about water shoes. It’s not a good idea to go bare footed. I use what we refer to as swim shoes. They are all plastic and they don’t absorb water, so they are going to drying out once you leave the water.

If you happen to use chest-waders a word of caution. If you step off in water over your head in chest-waders, they will fill up and you will sink like a rock. Any time I use chest-waders, I carry a knife so I can cut the shoulder straps if I need to get out of them quick.

When fishing creeks, streams or small rivers, live bait is king, especially in very clear water. However, if you are a person who only likes to fish artificial bait, it’s a good idea to think small. Shaky-head jigs and four-inch worms with little or no lead are good choices. If you use crankbaits or minnow baits, smaller versions will usually pay off.

Always give eddy areas a lot of attention, along with converging creeks, sand bars and down timber.

These small streams can hold a lot of fish in small pockets. Making multiple casts can make a big difference. Till next time, keep your lines tight and take a kid fishing.


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