"Where are the best spots to fish in rivers?" is a question I've been asked at different fishing shows. I can chinwag for hours about river tactics. One tip I always share is that navigation buoys often reveal hotspots for a multitude of species.
Navigations Buoys Lead to Fish
Green and red navigation markers lay-out a path on a river for safe passage (i.e., the channel). Their location is a hint of nearby, shallower structure outside of the channel that must be avoided. These features, however, are often prime fishing spots like humps, reefs, bars, rock piles, skinny-water flats and contour bends. Connect the dots and you'll contact fish.
Proximity to the Channel
Big fish like deep water. They also like edges. Fishing structure located near navigation markers puts you near a deep-to-shallow water transition close to the main channel where large fish lurk.
Bends Hold Fish
Navigation markers also reveal turns in the channel. Fishing a river bend is a reliable strategy for a range of species. Current varies here, as does depth. These variations concentrate fish.
A Visual Reference
Even with sonar/GPS units and Navionics electronic charts in my boat, I still use navigation markers as a checkpoint. Recently, I was fishing a hump on a river. Smallmouth were holding very tight to a specific ledge. The visual reference of the navigation marker helped fine-tune boat position, complimenting GPS and waypoint data and helping me put several quality fish in the net.
Avoid Boat Traffic and Hazards
Exercise caution and be mindful of boating traffic when fishing navigation markers. Keep yourself safe and stick to the sides of the main channel. Steer clear of cruising watercraft and watch for wakes.
Fishing outside the channel comes with the risk of encountering shallow-water hazards, such as rocky reefs, stump fields or sand bars. Use discretion when exploring new areas and vigilantly monitor surroundings. Always maintain a safe exit route from skinny-water back to the channel.
Take advantage of navigation buoys on your next river adventure. Savor the hook-sets and stay safe.