Where the Trout Go
As the snow melts and flows rise, it is important to understand how trout are affected. A trout’s life is hard, and they can not afford to waste energy. During high water life gets even harder, and they seek refuge is softer water. When perusing trout in these conditions we need to think about where they go.
They move to the slower currents that form behind large obstructions like boulders and sand bars. The seam on the downstream side of an island is an ideal place to find fish concentrated during higher flows. Fish also find refuge along the bank. The friction exerted on the water by the bank slows the flow along the river’s edge. Many fisherman make the mistake of standing on the bank and casting out into the torrent, when the fish are literally under their feet. In this situation the fish are not just near the bank, they are within inches of the dirt, or even underneath where water has cut away beneath the sod. Try swinging a streamer into an undercut bank, or pulling it downstream within just a couple inches of the overhanging grass. On the special rivers that have salmonfly hatches this time of year, I have experienced great success targeting the bank edge with short casts as I work my way upstream.
Where We Go
As waters rise there are techniques to find continued success. Understanding where the trout are in these conditions, and having a solid idea of what they are eating can go a long way. But, many of our rivers during peak runoff become un-fishable. The soft holding water is difficult or even dangers to access. Opaque flows with drifting trees and hidden snags can make boating equally dangerous, and the fish are holding on for dear life. In these peak runoff conditions, there is little we can do, except find somewhere else to fish.
Tailwaters may be higher than usual but they are insulated from these peak flows and can provide venues to apply our high water techniques; however they are consequently crowded. I suggest getting away from the big rivers and finding some hidden little places all to yourself. Beaver ponds are often loaded with brook trout and in some places native cutthroat. Look on maps for wetland areas, with natural springs and small ponds. The fish might be smaller, but fishing for hungry brookies on a small rod is hard to beat.
Written by- Ethan Wood