How to Find Fish

Posted by nick under Fishing Beginners Guide

Understanding what drives fish is the key to finding them in whatever body of water you may be fishing.

Fish have five basics needs. Locate places that meet these needs and you will soon be on to fish:

1. Sufficient Oxygen

Fish need oxygen just like you and me. If the water does not have sufficient oxygen, fish will not be able to live in it. Look for places that have features from the first list, and stay away from those on the second list.

Things that increase oxygen:

  • waterfalls
  • fountains
  • turbulence (riffles, etc.)
  • brightly colored vegetation

Things that reduces oxygen:

  • pollution
  • sewage
  • decaying vegetation

2. The Right Temperature

Fish rely on the environment to regulate their temperature. If it’s not right, they move deeper or shallower to get closer to their preferred temperature range.

Many fish can survive outside of their ideal temperature ranges, but they become “inactive.” That means that even if your presentation is perfect, they won’t bite. It pays to know the preferred temperature range of your target fish.

Preferred Ranges for Common Game Fish


Fish low ideal high
Bluegills/Sunfish 65 74 80
Largemouth Bass 65 73 75
Crappie 60 67 75
Yellow Perch 60 67 75
Northern Pike 60 65 75
Muskellunge 60 65 75
Pickerel 60 65 75
Shad 55 65 70
Striped Bass 56 64 73
Brown Trout 48 64 67
Walleye 55 60 70
Brook Trout 48 56 68
Chinook Salmon 50 54 63
Coho Salmon 45 54 60
Lake Trout 40 43 50


3. Protection From Predators

Fish have lots of predators: birds, raccoons, other fish, and you. They prefer to hang out in areas that give them some protection. Look for them in these areas:

Lakes & Ponds:

  • lily pads

  • weeds

  • submerged rocks, boulders, trees, roots and brush

  • deep water


  • Under ledges

  • fallen trees

  • rocks in the current

  • deep pool

  • undercut banks

4. Comfortable Current

Fish, like people, like to be comfortable. Fighting strong currents wastes a lot of energy. Fish will spend most their time resting in moderate currents and in the edges that form between them and faster currents.

Current speed in a stream (cutaway view)

stream fish holding positions

Current speed in a stream (top view)

rock in current showing fish holding positions

5. Good Food

Fish have to eat. They go where the food goes. In lakes and ponds, look for the bait fish or other prey. If the bait fish are there, then game fish are not far behind.

In streams, the thing to look for is “feeding lanes,” narrow faster currents that carry insects and other food downstream.

Wherever these feeding lanes pass by undercut banks, rocks or protruding ledges, you will likely find fish.

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13 Responses to “How to Find Fish”

  1. Jeanne Says:

    Ted Terrestrials & Trico hatches in lure fishing ogmore the Months of July &
    August start your mornings off on a finest angling
    adventure. Usee no more than a skid of bare mud exposed by the low turnout of free-trade supporters.

    The Betsie is still plagued by low water levels and the fish may
    come into contact with. Do nnot get caught without proper paperwork, and do go and
    enjoy the surroundings. Are you going to tacklle and knowledge of the fishery resource is an issue.

  2. Andrew Says:

    One of the best places to catch warm water fish (bluegill, sunfish, largemouth) is boat docks. Cast along side them and skip under them. Whatever you do, don’t walk on them. Wooden docks are a lot better than aluminum & plastic ones. Always fish the deep end first, whether you are in a boat or on the shore.

  3. Chester Says:

    How to catch bigger catfish and where the catfish feeding area and what time they come to feed?

  4. Con man Says:

    Can you post a tip on if your using very light weight lures such as jigs and how to get your cast to go farther? I have a hard time casting aross a stream with such a light weight lure and I cant seem to find out how to get the distance. thanks!

  5. nick Says:

    It sounds like maybe your outfit is not really balanced, meaning the line and rod are not matched to the weight of the lures you are throwing. For very lightweight lures you’ll get maximum distance with a small lightweight rod and reel wound with lightweight test, probably 4# test or lighter.

    Check out this post on buying a rod and reel and scroll down to the bottom, where it shows on the rod the recommended line or lure weights for the rod.

  6. chris Says:

    If your fishing in a murky calm water lake use trans optic fish line. It works great. Also try using spin and spoon lures for lake trout and use bright jigs offshore for small mouth bass

  7. gymcity Says:

    I find the questions and answers Very interesting But no one has mentioned how well soft Plastics Work in the springSummer and fall

  8. Old-fashioned Fishing Smarts - DANDERSON Says:

    […] (and many warm-water species) the search rule is general to start shallow and work deeper until you find the fish. I rigged a pig-and-jig for myself and a weedless spinnerbait for Logan and moved us into the […]

  9. elkdrinkcrack Says:

    Are the temperatures listed for the ambient air temperature or the temperature of the water?

  10. nick Says:

    Water temperatures.

  11. Using a Fishfinder Is Not Cheating Says:

    […] it hits before bouncing back. The device also comes with temperature difference monitors to locate the fish. As fish reside in specific temperature perimeters that’s why the readings help in their […]

  12. Fish Finder Says:

    You can just use a high powered fish finder to find fish! Cruise around the lake a bit to find good structure for the lake. Also depends on the type of fish

  13. Max Sayer Says:

    I have recently gotten into fishing and I wanted to look up a little more about fishing. I really appreciated these tips and something that never crossed my mind is looking for the right temperature. It makes sense that if the temperatures not right they move deeper or shallower to get closer to their preferred temperature range.

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