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Differences Between River Fishing And Sea Fishing

Differences Between River Fishing And Sea Fishing

Most of us have fond memories of heading down to the local stream or beach in the summer with some mates or your dad, casting a line or setting a trap to catch some crayfish or a plaice. But when SHTF, you’re going to need to know a lot more than this to get by.

Most of us have fond memories of heading down to the local stream or beach in the summer with some mates or your dad, casting a line or setting a trap to catch some crayfish or a plaice. But when SHTF, you’re going to need to know a lot more than this to get by.

One of the main differences is knowing how to approach rivers, and how to approach the sea – because they are not the same.

The UK is fortunately an island, meaning you have more access to water than other countries. Just thank God you aren’t bugging out in a landlocked nation.

In this post, we’re going to break down the main differences between sea fishing and river fishing. This will include the equipment to use, what creatures you can expect to find there, and other necessities that will help make the most of your chosen location.

men sea fishing on a beach

River Fishing – Much More Laid-Back

There’s a reason there isn’t any TV series about stressed riverboat captains, but there is a huge number about sailors at sea. That’s because rivers offer a much more tranquil approach, with water that flows more slowly, fish and creatures that are less likely to attack you, and a generally slower pace of life.

As a nation we love river fishing as it’s a sport anyone can get involved in, from regular gym-goers to young children looking to spend time in nature with their own fishing set.

Due to the smaller environment that comes with river fishing, the seasons have a much larger impact on the types of fish you catch when compared to the ocean. It’s especially nice to go in summer, when you’ll see creatures like carp and trout

Sea Fishing – It’s Where The Action Is

When you go further afield, into the sea, you’ll experience a much more extreme situation. Harsh winds will cause more trouble than on a river, and you’re in the middle of a brutal food chain, where predatory fish attack smaller fish – the ones you’re trying to catch.

You’re almost a target, but if you stay aboard your boat or wherever you’re located on terra firma, you’ll be alright. After all, the last thing you need is to face yet another risk, when you’re out here struggling to find your next meal as it is.

River Fishing – One Location, Different Approaches

Wherever you choose to go, from the River Mersey to the freezing edges of northern Scotland, it’s all the same approach. This is good, as you don’t have to make any big adaptations. For example, the river or lake fishing rod that suits you down near Cornwall will have the exact same success rate as the chilly waters found around Northern Ireland.

You’re going to be stood at the edge of a river regardless – the only main differences are the fish you’ll be catching, and the physical UK location you’ve chosen to settle in.

Sea Fishing – Multiple Locations, Multiple Approaches

On the contrary, the sea is accessible via many different mediums. From standing on the edge of piers to being aboard a boat located miles out into the Atlantic, there’s a huge number of ways you can make the most of the sea’s offerings.

Whichever route you choose to go down will affect the type of fishes you catch. Larger fish will be further out, located in the deeper, darker recesses of the ocean. But if you keep it near the shore, you’ll catch more friendly, more manageable fish. Here’s a closer look at the difference location can make.

River Fishing – Come Whenever

River fishing has a consistent stream of water at all moments of the day, meaning it’s suitable to go at any time of the day. Of course, you will generally want to go in the daytime when it’s light, as you can see what you’re doing – but this also helps you stay aware of any potential predators.

As there is a consistent stream of water, you can catch most of the same things in the morning as you will in the evening.

Sea Fishing – Time Matters

Unlike the river, the time of day you choose makes a huge difference due to the nature of the sea. Due to the changing tide patterns, different fish are available at different points due to them being carried by the currents.

Your best chance is to set up shop when the tide’s coming in, and then you’ll be able to get a full day. The further out you are, the wider the variety of species you’ll be able to catch, because the coast is the final stop for the waves.

smiling man fishing in a river

Same – The Equipment 

One of the few things that’s similar, alongside the general process, is the equipment required to succeed at both. From seasoned fishermen to first time anglers, only the essentials are required – because one thing no-one tells you, is that a lot of fishing is down to luck.

To get started, all you need is a fishing rod, some bait, hooks and lures. When you’re river fishing, you should also bring a bobber, which will keep your bait close to the surface, as rivers are generally much more shallow than sea fishing.

On the contrary, when you’re sea fishing, we recommend bringing essential sea fishing equipment like sinkers, to help your bait go further into the water in an effort to find the fish that reside in the lower parts.



As you can see, there’s a lot of differences in river and sea fishing – largely due to the environment itself. One thing that remains is the approach – so we recommend heading down to the local stream, and getting in some practice so you can get to grips with fishing in either the river or the sea well before SHTF.

And even if nothing major ever takes place, you’ll have developed a fun, time-consuming pastime that will even put food on your families table for free. If it’s a quiet day by the seaside and the fish aren’t biting, then why not forage along the beach and still bring home a tasty treat for supper. 


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