Many fish that live in rivers are carnivorous with a diet primarily consisting of smaller fish, worms, and crustaceans. There are some river fish that only eat plants but they are not nearly as popular among anglers. The diet of all freshwater fish can vary greatly depending on the species, environment, and available food resources. Understanding what river fish eat will help an angler select the right bait and be more effective the next time they hit the water.
Fish have diverse feeding habits that range from grazing on plants and algae to aggressive predators that will take any easy meal. River fish generally eat smaller prey such as insects, crustaceans, baitfish, and other aquatic organisms. Herbivorous river fish play an important role in the ecology of their habitats by grazing on aquatic vegetation and preventing overgrowth. Omnivorous river fish help to control both plant and animal populations in their ecosystems while the carnivorous species keep fish populations under control. Knowing what type of feeding behavior a fish has will help you better target them.
Fish generally eat other fish but their diet can also consist of eggs, algae, plants, crustaceans, worms, mollusks, insects, insect larvae, amphibians, and plankton. River fish are opportunistic feeders and their diet can vary depending on what is available in their environment. Some of the larger fish species have even been known to eat small birds or snakes.
Many of the predatory fish species typically hunt during the day and use their keen sense of smell, vibration, and sometimes sight to locate prey. River fish will also eat dead or dying animals if the opportunity presents itself.
Make the most of your trip to the river by picking the best time to wet a line. The best time to catch fish from a river is early morning or late evening. The fish will be more active and likely feed closer to the surface. With fish on the prowl for an easy meal, you'll have a better chance of getting a bite. Get up early or stay out late, and enjoy some great fish as well as a peaceful day on the water.
If you want to get a jump on the learning curve that comes with fishing rivers, you can find a guide here, who can show you the ropes and put you on the fish.