With the recent spring rains, we have had a lot of clients and customers ask us, “Is the water too high to fish?” The answer is yes and no. When the water is up the fishing becomes less about numbers and more about nailing that trophy you’ve been after. The simple fact is, that big fish love big water. Increased flows knock loose food and makes big fish feel more confident in eating during the day. These trophies may be nocturnal feeders at all other times. Extreme water conditions call for extreme fishing measures. Here are a few tips for next time the flood comes and you want to get out.
1. Stay out of the river. First off for safety’s sake. High flows ensures dangerous wading conditions and if you add bottom obscuring color to the water you now have a recipe for a swim, if not disaster. Secondly, the fish have to find refuge in high flows and one of the best, no work required, holding spots on the river is tight to the banks. So if you start wading on the banks you are probably standing right where the fish are.
2. The more weight the better. Leave you micro split shot at home. We are talking at least BB size if not multiple AB shot for this kind of fishing. You need your flies to drop like a depth charge before the current pulls them out of the zone. Heavy tungsten beads on nymphs help out, as do throwing heavy streamers with nymph droppers. Also if you have a sink tip line in the closet that hasn’t seen the light of day for a few years…now is the time to break that bad mamma jamma out.
3. Put an end to the madness as quickly as possible.Big fish on heavy currents make for a million different ways for that trophy to come unbuttoned. Use the heaviest size tippet you can get away with (nothing thinner then 4x) and stack the odds in your favor by aggressively netting the fish. If he jumps, try to net him mid air. The longer the fight lasts the less likely it is that you will ever get that fish to the net.
Hopefully this will help out the next time the rains come, and you feel like going trophy hunting. Always remember that no fish is worth putting yourself into a bad situation in big water, so be smart and be safe.