Junction pools, those intersections where a feeder stream joins a larger creek or river, are often key fish locations, particularly during the winter months.
What is it about junction pools that gamefish find to their liking? Think about the main factors that affect river fish's lives: the influence of current; the need for cover and food.
Colliding flows, especially when the water level is high, scour depressions in the river's bottom, often creating deep holes. The depth itself provides cover and safety. Positions from which to ambush prey are found along the edges of the pool. Branches and logs become imbedded in the streambed, and furnish additional cover. During normal flows the conflicting currents feature seams, additional edges that fish relate to. Baitfish species also find junction pool habitat favorable, creating a ready food source for the larger predators that interest fishermen.
From an angling standpoint, junction pools are particularly productive during the evening twilight period. At this time gamefish that were relatively inactive during the day perk up for a feeding period, one that might last an hour or two.
Naturally, the kind of fish one finds at a junction pool depends on the species the river supports. My home water is the Allegheny River; here one can expect to catch walleyes northern pike and muskies, as well as saugers in the lower portion of the Allegheny.
One of the beauties of fishing a junction pool is that it's often available to not only boat anglers, but those on shore as well. Boat fishermen can anchor out in the main river, just outside the tributary mouth. Casts made up in the creek mouth are often bitten by foraging gamefish. Shore anglers can reach the same fish, and can often work from either bank of the tributary, since it's common for highway or railroad bridges to span the creek, providing a means of getting to both sides.
The sport found at junction pools often is just what's needed for a short, wintertime break: active fish that are relatively easy to get to.