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Reading the water


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Side channels are one of my favorite spots to fish. The obvious ones are on the sides of islands. Most of the river goes to one side of the island and a smaller section is on the other side. I'm talking about fishing the smaller side. If you like fishing creeks this is for you. If you're having a tough day this might turn it around. Everything is downsized in the side channel except the size of the fish. In a smaller area you'll make fish contact and get something. Some days this is all you can do.

The side channels I really like are so small you can almost spit across them and you can see bottom on most of them. Except for one area. Thats the small deep hole maybe under some roots or a log has fallen into the river. There's one big fish in there or a whole bunch but what ever goes down that side channel they get a shot at eating it.

There are other "side channels" on flats or slow sections of the river. It looks like nothings going on but right next to the bank is a narrow slot. It's deeper there's current and it's only a few feet wide. Shooting fish in a barrel time.

If you're working side channels fish the lift above them, flats and islands form because of hard bottom. Work the area above the island where the bottom goes from deep to shallow. Work the area where the side channel reconnects with the main river.

The last kind of side channels are dry ones. Places where the river cuts across points in flood situations. In high water I've caught fish in these, it's about the same as feeder creeks. Pay attention to where these dry creeks rejoin the river there's usually a hole there. Walking these dry creeks can save you time getting back up stream and you can learn a lot about river fishing walking a dry creek.


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Good tips.


The areas you mention are often overlooked or ignored by most wade anglers.

They'll prefer to fish the wider areas, with a greater flow.


I've found some nice fish holding in such areas.

Some have some nice structure, depressions---

on ocassions, I've found lots of fish.


One area, I'm quite familiar with, also has plenty of fallen structure, that most anglers avoid---

its full of snags, brush, logs, laydowns, and the like.

This area is where the long 10-12ft rod is very handy.

"Just reach out, over, and catch something".


It's a great area, I generally fish it, when others are suppose to be at work.

I avoid it on weekends---don't want to draw attention to this hot spot.


Downtown St Charles and the Geneva area, already get lots of attention and they get fished real hard.

Gotta find new places that aren't on the internet or haven't been on TV.

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Two more side channels. Bridge slots. There are bridges with 2 or 3 feet between the shore and the first abutment give this spot a shot. It's shaded usually rip rapped and has some current.

Side of the bed load. Pools in rivers with a lot of sediment or just lower reaches of all our rivers sometimes the entire pool is filled in with sand only a narrow slot exists along the shore. These sections of the river can be amazing.


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