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​High Water Fishing

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Just got a foot of snow here in Pennsylvania……. but that rodent promised spring would be right around the corner. Personally, I don’t even believe a meteorologist when it comes to predicting the weather…. but that’s another story.

The calendar says spring will be here. I can’t wait. For many regions of the country, that means snow melt and run-off…. high water. Off colored. Tough fishing. Just like anything else in life, you become better at your craft if you can be successful during difficult times.

About the Water

Firstly, the water is big. Be safe. Use a pfd and carry a wading stick. My number one rule of fly fishing is to make it home. Period. 

Secondly, the water is cold. Snow is melting after all. The main stem of many rivers will be colder than many of the tribs.

Where to Fish + What to Cast

Area number one I target, right down stream of tributaries. 

The water is warm, and there’s an abundance of forage coming into the river like a food conveyor. This is going to be either a nymphing game or a streamer game. I have had better success on the nymph. Streamers can work, but depending on the water temperature, trout aren’t going to give much of a chase.

From a nymph selection standpoint, water clarity should dictate color and speed of water the weight. 

Bead head, tungsten beads, coneheads are all on the menu. Get the fly down. If the water is off color, which it normally is, I like bright colored nymphs in red, chartreus, and my favorite…the batman nymph.

Batman Nymph

Psycho Prince, BH YellowBurgin Bugger, Cone Head, Olive

If you can find boulders with back eddies, give them a go. They can hold a couple of fish. 

Getting your drift going will be a challenge, just make sure your dropping your fly well ahead of the strike zone and giving your fly a chance to get down.  The areas I always hit are the banks.  Pound the banks.

The other areas I like to target are deep drop offs. 

The water current is going to be the slowest the deeper the water is and the closer it is to the bottom. Get above the drop off, cast downstream with substantial stack mends. You want the fly to dead drift as much as possible and get down as deep as possible.

Side Notes

Just a brief side note here. There’s a sweet spot time of year right before run off. The water temps have rising, the air has gotten warmer, but it’s still freezing in the mountains and the snow pack hasn’t melted yet. If you get a chance, fish this time of year. Trout are warming up and actively feed. It can one of the most productive couple of weeks of the year.

High water can come at any time really, after a big thunderstorm, or big release in off a tailwater. If you can master run off water, these are a piece of cake in comparison. Well, maybe not a piece of cake, but at least you’ll have some skills and confidence that you can catch some fish. 

Until next time my fishy friends…..

Tight Lines and Screaming Drags

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