If you have not discovered Google local and its satellite views as a way to preview any fishing location, you’re not using the most significant tool available (other than this website, of course) that allows you to keep from going to a dead area.
Prior to going to any river, you should pop open the Google satellite view and maximize it to see what the structure on the bottom of the river looks like. For the best fishing water, you should look for any disturbance in the river that would indicate a gradient break and associated fast water, higher oxygen content and rocky structure. We all know that both trout and smallmouth bass hang out above and below these gradient breaks and wait for food to be channeled to them.
Although many of these images can be up to three years old, and may have been taken at odd times of the year where you do not know whether the river is in flood or was at its low point, these pictures still provide valuable information.
For example, you decide to fish the South Fork of the Shenandoah and want to visit the river at one of the numerous public access points. But, you have no clue as to whether you should go up or downstream from the launch point. By checking the satellite view, you can see where the riffled areas exist and how far they are from the launch point. After all, the most critical turn you’ll make on a day of fishing is the turn to go either up or downstream from an access point.
While I end up going everywhere just to see what it is anyway, if you’re going to go to a location that is not already covered on this site, you should take advantage of the free Google satellite service to ensure you make that critical right decision when you enter the water.
That said, there are well over 200 fishing reports on this site and each of them has a number of pictures as well as the narrative to describe what I encountered on the day I visited — that should be your first place to look for advice.
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Upper Barnum C&R near Bloomington. Usually, the area immediately up and downstream of a rough area is good!
Upstream from Knoxville
Actual location – looks great!
Raccoon Ford access #2
Actual location – matches… it’s a muddy mess
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore