This time of the year can present some of the best fly fishing of the season
High, stained water can be your friend if you approach it properly. Of course, safety is your first concern, but if you take the correct approach, you can remain safe and catch fish.
When the water begins to rise, the fish are pushed to the softer seams along the banks. The drag caused by the bottom or base of the river, coupled with the drag caused from the sides of the river act to substantially slow the current allowing for fish holds. As the current initially rises, coupled with colder water than usual from snow melt and spring rain or snow, the fish usually get angry for a day or two as they are dislodged from current holds and warmer water. Don’t worry, they’ll settle in.
Some of my favorite flies for this season are large Scud patterns, San Juan worms in pink or chocolate brown (The Big Nasty outlined with tying instructions in The Fly Fisher’s Playbook, 2nd Edition), and size 16-18 tungsten bead Black Soft-Hackled Pheasant Tails. These are bugs the fish can see because of the fluorescent nature, dark colors, and large sizes. Not a bad idea to dead drift dark leech patterns followed by two more bugs in your rig too. My assumption is that if the can see it, they can eat it.
Work the edges under an indicator while dialing in the depth and speed accordingly. You’ll know when you are dialed in because you’ll start moving fish. Hold on if you hook up, because fish will immediately sprint for fast water, become profiled in the current, and take off. Set your drag accordingly.
Don’t let high water keep you from fishing your favorite river. Just wade prudently, go with a buddy, and go big and nasty!
Fear No Water!