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Fishing Narrow, Shallow Channels: A Guide

In this blog post, we will be going over a simple guide to fishing small water channels. The task can seem difficult and frustrating at times, but this guide should be able to give you some valuable skills that can make your experience more successful!

Photo by Hayden Minor


While fishing channels, you'll want to pick your watercraft appropriately. For example, due to the fact that channels are often shallow and narrow, you likely won't be able to fish effectively with a large bass boat. Instead, try a kayak or canoe if possible.

A great thing about kayaks and canoes is that they do not require a noisy motor to operate. This really helps one to avoid scaring away fish in the nearby area and allows you to listen to your surrounding environment more easily. Additionally, it can even make your watercraft more maneuverable in such tight waters.


Channel fishing is a great opportunity to get some use of your lighter tackle setups! Ultralight rods are an excellent choice for fishing these waters due to their sensitivity and effectiveness in fishing for smaller targets like crappie, bluegill, perch, and younger bass.

As far as fishing line goes, we recommend not exceeding over 8-pound test (with 4–6-pound test being the most ideal choices). This is due to the fact that the larger the test, the more likely the fish are going so sense your line. You are also less likely to catch a monster PB in the channels, so it's best to leave the heavy-duty gear at home.


When fishing narrow and shallow waters, you'll likely encounter smaller fish. This means that you should generally be fishing smaller baits as well. Some great options for this are ned rigs, small spinners/crankbaits/swimbaits, artificial minnows, and live crappie minnows. We don't recommend using topwater lures because they can oftentimes spook schools of fish and clear the area of any possible catches.

Your lures should match the food source of the area; for example, when we fish our local channel, we like to use perch-colored swimbaits/spinners. Additionally, we'll often utilize Gulp minnows due to both their color and strong scent. The fish will be looking for their routine food source, so it is important you try to mimic that.

Fishing Techniques

Fishing channels often looks and feels different than other bodies of water. You will need to fish lighter all around: your lure, hooks, and line should be lighter. The reason for this is because you want your bait suspended in the water or slowly falling down to the bottom surface. This allows for a greater chance of fish seeing your bait, therefore increasing the possible strike time.

It is also just as important to lighten up your movements when fishing in channels. Due to their shallow and sometimes clear water, fish can be easily spooked by rapid movements. Some tips to combat this is to cast light, but also far enough to where fish can't see you immediately. Additionally, you will want to move your watercraft slowly and smoothly with minimal splashing.

Some specific techniques that work great for channel fishing are bobber fishing, jigging, and power fishing.


To conclude this guide, channel fishing is a great fishing experience that brings you closer to both nature and the fish you're targeting. You will often see lots of fish action and untouched nature while on the water. Hopefully this guide taught you something new regarding this fishing method, and we wish you the best of luck on your next channel adventure!

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