Rivers affected by anthropogenic nutrient inputs can retain some of the phosphorus (P) load through sediment retention and burial. Determining the influence of land use and management on sediment P concentrations and P retention in fluvial ecosystems is challenging because of different stressors operating at multiple spatial and temporal scales. In this study, we sought to determine how land use and management influenced sediment P concentrations and P retention within a river network draining a watershed modified by mixed land use activities; the Fox River, Wisconsin, USA. Results show current land use had no detectable effect on sediment P concentrations, and only a small potential effect on P retention capacity. However, sites draining predominantly forested areas were associated with riverbed sediments less saturated in P, whereas sites draining mainly agricultural areas were more likely to release sediment-bound P. Current management actions, including the implementation of best management practices, had a small positive effect on P retention capacity but had no observed effect on sediment P concentrations. Our results suggest that fine riverbed sediment throughout the Fox River network is saturated with P and has the capability to release P when water column P concentrations are low. These P-saturated riverbed sediments represent a potential legacy effect of past land use disturbances on P dynamics in the Fox River network.