Western states received a heavy snowpack this year and flows will be running above average on many rivers for the next couple of months.
Unfortunately, runoff often associated with poor fishing. But a simple change of tactics will increase your chances of success. Keep your focus on safety in the boat and on foot when fishing during runoff. Big flows will move trees, create dangerous currents and demand your attention. Always play it safe and prioritize your safety above the fishing.
Here are four tips to finding great fishing during runoff:
Work the Banks
Fish tend to hug the banks when the water levels are high. Work your flies tight to the bank, and wading is rarely necessary. Simply face upstream and slowly walk along the shore, presenting against the bank. Fishing from a boat is ideal because you can cover ground and have a continual presentation against the bank. Drifting dry flies, nymphs and streamers are all effective.
Look for Structure
Pay special attention to any structure that breaks the current. Logs and boulders will have fish stacked in the soft water. Set up on structures and work them thoroughly. Take the time to try different flies, adjust your depth and find the right formula for success.
When the dry fly fishing is slow, focus on getting your flies down quickly in the quick current. Add plenty of weight to nymph rigs. Fish will often be holding low in the water column, and placing your bugs right in their faces is important.
Try using a point fly that’s weighted or has a tungsten bead. The same tactic applies to streamers. Use extra weight if needed to break through the current and get down. Fishing with a sinking leader like the Rio VersiLeader is a great way to get your streamers down in a hurry.
Early summer is your chance to fish big bugs. Don’t be afraid to use those big salmon flies and golden stones. A large, foam-bodied dry fly is capable of carrying a heavy nymph, and these dry-dropper setups can make a great combination.
Recommended Fly Rods
During the spring runoff, we like to fish our all-around trout rods like the 9’ 5-weight Reaper X, allowing us to fish both dries and nymph rigs. But on many such days, we certainly appreciate the extra performance and reach of the 10’ 3” 6-weight M-Series.