It’s late spring. The days are getting longer, the afternoons are getting warmer and rivers are starting to clear up
after weeks of being the color of chocolate milk. The warm temperatures and
flooded vegetation have created an influx of bio mass and the fish are hungry.
Making this a great time to not only catch fish but maybe your biggest fish of
the year. The best part is, When most
people see off color water, flooded vegetation, and fast currents they
head home or decide to fish a lake.
Making learning how to read rivers during highwater, and fish them effectively a skill that every flyfisherman should have.
The very first thing you need to
understand is the fish can see your fly, I know it’s a hard fact to believe
when you cant even see the bottom standing in a foot of water. But I have
caught as many fish on a size 16
baeta-midge as I have on a size 4
stone fly while fishing rivers the consistency of watered down chocolate milk.
The biggest challenge fishing rivers during high water times is not choosing
the right fly, its about getting your fly in front of fish. There’s more water
theoretically meaning that there are more possible places for fish to be.
Right? Well that’s kind of true, there is more CFU’s of water in the river system,
But most of the river is now one big dirty rapid, or a flood plane. So your
looking for the water that is neither. find a moderate current with rocks,
ledges, drop offs, and or branches creating current breaks for the trout, Basically the same kind of water you would
fish if water levels where normal. It’s just not where you usually find it.
While your favorite hole may now be a class 4 rapid, the boulders that used to
line the bank are now a few inches under water creating current breaks that
will hold trout. The willows that catch your back cast when your not paying
attention are also in the water. This flooded Vegetation will be full of
hatching caddis fly’s, stone fly’s, and may fly’s in the spring and
terrestrials in the summer. Meaning that these current brakes with vegetation
next to them are prime locations to find feeding trout.
Now that we have an idea of places where
trout will be feeding. The next topic is what techniques will get our fly’s in
front of feeding fish. My go to technique is to grab my Euro-nymphing rod
attach around 5′ of tippet below my sighter and…… set my rod to the side and
begin looking along the banks for signs of what has been hatching, and scanning
the water looking for any clues that tell me where and what the trout are
feeding on. I’ve found the best way to catch fish consistently especially when
your fishing new water or new water conditions is to take your time and fish
the area effectively. Unless you see trout actively feeding on the surface
start out nymphing. Trout are generally located close to the bottom, this is
especially true when fishing high water. The currents on the bottom of the
river will almost always be the slowest and the safest. So weather your
Euro-nymphing or using a strike indicator your going to want to make sure your
using plenty of weight and getting down to the bottom. The old adage change
your depth before you change your fly’s is one to live by when fishing high