redbreast sunfish spawning phase male
Redbreast Sunfish (spawning phase male)

Located between the Appalachian mountains and the Mid Atlantic coast, warmwater streams contain an incredible diversity of fish and wildlife. These small waterways tend to have moderate currents, although stream conditions can vary considerably over time.

In many of these streams, populations of fish can vary considerably depending on seasonal influences, water levels, and other factors.

In the Mid Atlantic states, a number of warmwater streams sustain seasonal spawning migrations of anadromous fish. Among the most well known species are American shad, hickory shad, river herring, striped bass, white perch, and yellow perch.

In addition to seasonal runs of anadromous fish, many streams contain a variety of native fish species.

Among the most common are members of the bass and sunfish family, largemouth, smallmouth and rock bass, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, redbreast sunfish, fallfish, chain pickerel, northern pike, muskellunge, walleye, channel catfish, white catfish, brown bullheads, and others.

A number of warmwater stream structures are known for producing fish. Most streams have areas with rocky or gravel bottoms which are broken by pools, riffles, and other formations.

Stumps, tree trunks, and other timber attract fish. Although these obstructions provide shelter for fish, they can wreak havoc on fishing tackle. To deal with snags, stream anglers employ a number of specialized rigs and techniques.

Along many warmwater streams, bridges can be important assets for fishermen. Bridges often provide access points as well as important structure for attracting fish. Bridges usually include rip-rap, pilings, casements, or archways which create rips, pools, scours, and other formations.

Where streams make sharp turns, depths and currents create zones where fish can lie in wait to ambush prey. Similar conditions exist in areas where feeder streams converge into a main channel. These outflows attract larger fish which lurk nearby, waiting to feed on worms, crayfish, bait fish, or other prey that gets swept into the open.

Warmwater streams eventually converge into rivers, lakes or estuaries. These convergences attract a variety of fish species, creating opportunities for anglers.

In addition to fish, warmwater streams are known for their wildlife. Many waterways and surrounding lands provide important habitat for beaver, otter, raccoons, foxes, deer, bear, and others. Woodland streams also provide nesting and feeding areas for wood ducks, mallards, geese, and other birds.


Related Information

Waterways – Rivers and Lakes

Tidal Rivers