Shop Orvis Today!

Reading Water In Floods And Droughts (9 of 12)

Watch Next Video

Video Transcript:

Speaker 1: Unfortunately, you won't always find your favorite trout stream in perfect shape. Spring runoff, sudden rainstorms and periodic dam releases can turn that crystal-clear stream into chocolate milk. You don't have to give up, though - trout can see surprisingly well in dirty water, and may even take a dry-fly if they're in water that's shallow enough for them to see the surface.

Where do trout go during high water? Sometimes they don't move at all, because most of the force of a flood is concentrated in the faster main channel of the river, and the velocity in a trout's lie, already protected from the current, doesn't really change that much. But in high water, some fish will move into the shallow margins along the banks. Because it's difficult for us to get a fly down to those fish in really heavy water, sometimes the only game in town is fishing along the banks.

Molly: Hah! Yes! That's what I wanted for Tom!

Speaker 1: All right! Thank you, Molly. Yes! Oh! In general, during floods, I'd concentrate along the banks and in slower pools. But just be careful of your wading - you won't be able to see bottom, and the force of the current will be greater than you're used to.

Probably the best strategy in high water is to use a streamer with a bulky profile. Trout can sense vibrations in the water with their lateral line sense and bulky streamers create vibrations in the water that trout can hear.

Low, clear water is not as difficult to fish as high, dirty water, and in some ways is easier because the trout will be concentrated in fewer places. In low water, the current's always lower, so look for that bubble line that indicates where the food will be drifting. Trout will be right under it.

If the weather's hot, also look for oxygenated water like riffles or pocket water, because trout need high concentrations of dissolved oxygen to live, especially if the water temperatures above 65 degrees. And if you catch fish when water temperatures are in the high 60s, play them quickly and release them quickly. And you should stop fishing when water temperatures hit 70 degrees because fish get so stressed that you can play them to exhaustion and kill them. One of the most important considerations when fishing low water is stealth, which I'll talk about when we return.