Shoal: Shallow rocky areas with small or large rapids flowing through them. Shoals usually widen a river out, which is why they are typically shallower because the same amount of water now has to cover more area. It is this widening, combined with the rocks, that provides the river with double, triple and even quadruple the surface area. Increasing the surface area provides more places for aquatic plant life to grow. Likewise, the shallower water promotes photosynthesis, since the sun can penetrate through the shallower water down to the river bottom. Therefore aquatic plants are much more likely to occur in the shoals. Once the plant life is there, the other creatures are sure to follow since simple plants and algea are the basis for life. Shoals will hold more life in a river than any other area. You’ll see more fish species here, as well as birds, crawfish, hellgramites, water insects, otters, muskrats etc…oh, and river bassers!
Push Water: Water before a shoal that is smooth but increases in speed significantly because the water in front of it is tumbling down a shoal or rapid. Push water acts as a suction, often times pulling little fish down the rapid before they know what hit them. Big fish like this water because they can prey upon these unsuspecting victims and they also have access to deep water as well since the push water is deeper than the shoal water.
Pool: Pools are defined as exactly what you would think they would be defined as – slow, deeper areas in the river where the water pools up. Even the pool in your backyard has to be defined by some higher walls to hold the water in. Well, in a river those walls are the rocks that are forming the shoals above and below the pool. The other two walls are obviously the river banks. Pools are found between the rapids and shoals, but there can be smaller pools within the shoals as well, like the picture to the right. Pools are usually deeper areas in relation to the the water that is surrounding it. All kinds of river bass hang out in or near pools because it has swift water entering and exiting it and has depth which provides safety and security for fish – especially big ones. Unlike your swimming pool, river bassers will not want to swim in these pools but rather let their lures swim in them!
Rapid: A rapid is single significant drop in elevation in the river, thus causing the water to literally fall over an edge. Several rapids strung together will often be considered a shoal. Sometimes rapids are found alone without any other rapids nearby. Pools are usually found near rapids and are good places to fish. Rapids are categorized in a class system, with class I being the tamest and class V being the most insane. The actual rapid is usually very swift and can be dangerous to river bassers if they choose to paddle down a class III or higher. When in doubt, portage around any significant drops. Returning home alive is the first priority in river bassin!
Tailout: This is the end of a rapid where the water is still fast paced, but is no longer literally falling over an edge or rock. Tailouts are often found in pools that rapids dump into. A lot of times the water right near the rapid will be too swift for fish to hold in, but by the time it has tailed off it is calm enough for fish to feed in. Actually, in reality, what the fish are doing it sitting in the calm water of the pool or a current break and facing the tailout hoping that a meal comes washing by!
Run: An area of a river that is typically straight, shallow, and typically has gravel or sand on the bottom of the river without any major rock structure or depth changes. Runs typically have moderate to swift current as are not prime hangouts for river bass. And, therefore should not be prime hangouts for river bassers! Bass are found in runs however, but they are typically juvenile bass – aka dinks!
Blowdown – laydown – deadfall: This is a tree that has fallen into the water, now providing cover for fish to ambush from. Trees like this provide surface area for aquatic plant life to grow on. Dead wood in the water will always be a key place to find fish because of the microscopic and visible algae and plant life that so many smaller creatures will use for nourishment. Sometimes you will find these dead trees in the middle of the river, but usually they are found still connected to the bank. Be careful in smaller creeks or rivers because if a tree has blocked your path you will need to portage around it. If it is found in a swift section be sure not to get near it because it can be deadly. A word for this type of deadfall is a strainer, which is defined below.
Strainer: Any object, usually a tree, that is across the river just above the surface and does not leave enough room under it for a kayak or canor to pass under. If a person runs into a strainer the current can pin the boat and fisherman against the object with no hope for escape. They can be very dangerous and can claim a life if one is not careful.
Eddy: An eddy is essentially a pool that is created by the river changing directions and flowing upstream. The water in an eddy just sort of swirls in a circle and sometimes sticks, leaves and other trash will get caught up in one and just spin there until it gets stuck on the bank or spit back out into the main river current. Eddys are usually found when the river bends one way or another. The current in an eddy is usually much tamer than the main river flow and, therefore, are good places to find fish taking it easy trying to conserve some energy.
Current Break: When the current is slowed, stopped, misdirected by some form of structure.
Structure: Anything in the river that breaks the current. This could be rocks, wood, docks, bridge pilings, washers, engine blocks or old tires etc.