Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Fly fishing the Murky Water


As the high country begins to experience warmer temperatures, the mountainous areas of Spring produces runoff from the snowmelt.  Increased water production from snowmelt will cause swollen high flow rivers with heavy dimness, obscurity in water clarity, and higher river bottom sediment churning into muddy waters.  While these conditions may not seem optimal for fly fishing for most, it also can be an opportunity to catch some trophy fish.


Search for lagging seams close to the edges of the banks as fish will cling around the inside bends and on gentler banks.  Fish will seek places where food would naturally settle into eddies behind boulders, behind newly down trees and other submerged structures, or a section of slack water where bugs and other food sources will sift.  Pursue lengths of choppy shallow water that are superseded by pots or pools of deep water where the fish will congregate.  These are all secure shelters trout will search out for refuge during high water.  These sections will give the trout to reserve energy by remaining out of the main current and to nourish on the large influx of food sources from the heightened flows and rising water.  Many aquatic insects get flushed off the belly of the river, while others emerge from the freshly engulfed river banks.


During runoff, rising water may create new variations to explore.  High water levels often will expose and conceive new hold pots for fish.  Semi-submerged trees and freshly flooded rocks may move fish into a new slack water as well as at the back of newly submerged or relocated structures.  For the fly angler, muddy water can still offer great fortuitousness fishing expeditions.

On tail water rivers that have a considerable amount of living matter in them, rising water can really churn up a lot of fish grub such as scuds and sowbugs.  The fish will gorge themselves silly on the abundance of bugs from the high water.  Amid these times of runoff, fish are still actively feasting.  So don't let the murky water detour the desire to fish.


Low visibility means usage of a heavier leader and tippet is welcomed, just remember that a heftier leader means your flies will sink slower.  Usage of regular monofilament is an option and the occasion to save on expensive fluorocarbon during these muddy conditions.  Fish are less inclined to spook due to the poor visibility and rapid water levels.  There care certainly opportunities of the ability to get fairly close to the fish near the banks.  Fish tight against the banks.

Yes, I did catch this handsome male in the murky waters!

I generally fish smaller flies and diminutive nymph patterns, but fly fishing in murky water with the lesser transparency allows the angler to fish much larger flies.  Bring weighted flies such Stonefly nymphs, Woolly Buggers, light and dark colored streamers, worms, egg patterns, leeches, to name a few.  Bring an abundance of splitshots to deliver flies hastily towards the bottom to procure that effective drift presentation.  Dry flies are still on the radar, so be prepared for rising insatiable fish.


Safety is the ultimate priority when fishing during runoff.  With high water, it is not necessary to wade.  Obviously with wading, do use great caution with each step and foot positioning.  Wading staff a must, wear a wader belt, and even wearing a PFD while fishing with your buddies is a smart option.  Always inform another of your whereabouts if you are fishing alone.

Runoff does offer alternative fishing adventures to the angler with great opportunities to catch some impressive, outstanding fish.  Be cautious out there, and see you on the river!









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