What is a Channel and Where is it Located? / Learning to Fish Rivers & Streams

What is a River Channel / Where are they Located?

To the angler that does most of their fishing in lakes and reservoirs, approaching streams and rivers can seem quite foreign. (I’m speaking as someone who is currently intimidated by these winding bodies of rolling water.) The fish behave differently, they use different locations, respond to different presentations, conditions can change constantly… things are just… well, different.

However, a 30 second internet search will reveal the truth: there are many stream & river fishing opportunities that we are missing.

Question is… how do we fix that? Where do we start?

Answer?

Right here, right now.

Let’s discuss what a channel is, and where the deepest water in a river or stream is typically located.

What is a channel?

A channel is typically a narrow, fluid body of moving shallow water that provides a path for sediment flowing within the stream (or river) banks. Vegetation, sediment load, slope and flow can lead to constant changes that affect both aquatic & terrestrial life.

Because the water is moving, the fish in these areas can be slightly more resilient to changing weather conditions like cold fronts, cloud cover and changes in air temperature. If you have the option to fish either a small lake or a stream after a cold front – it might be a good idea to pick the stream!

It is also important to note that many sources seem to refer to the channel as something that is actually within the stream or river itself. The channel is part of a river or stream. Look back at our definition above, the channel provides “a path… flowing within the stream (or river) banks”.

Where is the channel actually located?

Next, it’s important that we understand the general underwater makeup of these channels, especially since most of us will not have access to our depth finders or the electronics we’re used to relying on when we’re fishing lakes. To understand where the channel itself is located (along with the deepest water) let’s look at a cross-section provided by The Freshwater Angler™: Fishing Rivers & Streams:

In a straight section of a river / stream?

Straight River or Stream Channel Location
This image displays a straight section of this river / stream. The cross section inset shows the channel located dead center. The deepest water in this stretch of water is located right in the center of the stream / river.
[Photo Credit: The Freshwater Angler™: Fishing Rivers & Streams]

Along an outside bend of a river / stream?

Outside Bend River or Stream Channel Location
This image displays an outside bend section of this river / stream. The cross section inset shows the channel actually shifts to the outside edge of the bend. The deepest water in this stretch is located there, and the fastest moving water is indicated by the dark blue area. Current is slower on the surface, bottom and along the sides because of friction with the air and streambed.
[Photo Credit: The Freshwater Angler™: Fishing Rivers & Streams]

Along an inside bend of a river / stream?

Inside Bend River or Stream Channel Location
This image displays an inside bend section of this river / stream. The cross section inset shows the channel actually shifts to the outside edge of the bend – just like the previous image but in the opposite direction. Again, the deepest water is located there, and the fastest moving water is indicated by the dark blue area. Current is slower in areas of friction.
[Photo Credit: The Freshwater Angler™: Fishing Rivers & Streams]

Moving Forward

Next, we’re going to talk more about current, current speed, and the different elements that factor into this attribute in your body of water. This is important knowledge to have, especially if you’re like me and plan to hike & explore as many streams as you can find in the near future!

That’s a big goal for this year.

Last year, it was important to take some bad habits and turn them into good behaviors. These behaviors resulted in a whole bunch of awesome fish – now this year, it’s time to repeat that process and catch more fish from more bodies of water.

Yup... this looks like a great fishing spot!
A 3.5 lb bass taken from a small local lake. The result of better behaviors.

Let’s keep pushing ahead. Tight lines!

NEXT SECTION: Understanding Current and How it Affects Fish Behavior

[ Back to the Index Page for Learn How To Fish Rivers & Streams ]

Next: Have You Ever Caught CRAPPIE This Way? Don’t tell your buddies…

A Crappie Fishing Secret

It’s So Easy the Kids Caught Fish Doing It, and it doesn’t involve a bobber

%d bloggers like this: