Thursday, January 1, 2009
High Water Part 1
A number of years ago, I took James fly fishing with me at the Oatka. It was spring and the air was getting nice and warm, flowers were blooming and the leaves on the trees had now fully opened. There had already been reports of some good early hatches of Hendricksons. I was very excited to get James and me into some fish. This excitement changed when we got to the stream and noticed that the water was not only high, but muddy! I knew that it would be a little high due to some rain we had that week, but I had no idea that it would be almost not fishable. I had to change gears. I decided to stick it out and fish the creek with a new approach. I tied on a size 12 beadhead peacock herl woolly bugger under a strike indicator and fished as close to the bank as I could get. The visibility of the water was about 6 inches and I could just make out the rocks and stones that were at my feet. After some adjustments to my rig and a few drifts in a new spot, my indicator dipped. I lifted the rod and to my surprise I had a fish on. It wasn’t big, but it was a fish! After that fish and a new found confidence, I worked that drift again and again, pulling fish after fish from that single spot. I called James over and set him up with the same rig that I had. I put him in the spot and told him that the fish were right close to the bank. A few drifts later and he was into his first fish. This was the start of a fantastic day of fishing. We then moved downstream looking for other likely holding areas. And each time we would find a likely spot we would catch a few trout. Then we came upon a slight bend in the stream that had a small little peninsula sticking downstream from the bank. This made a perfect little pocket off of the main current and formed a seam that flowed for almost 50 yards downstream. Almost every cast into that seam produced a take. We even had numerous doubles. We spent most of our time that day at that spot, only moving on after we had gotten board with catching fish after fish. And even though I have caught fish in high water before, I hadn’t been that successful in high “muddy” water until that day.
I now have plenty of those little woolly buggers in my fly box, and they have yet to let me down. I have also applied the high water knowledge to other streams. And it has proven to be equally successful where ever I fish. We have even used a similar set up for steelhead and lake run browns in the spring, and it has been deadly!
We had the stream to ourselves that day. And I think if I had looked at a stream report before we headed out, I may have chosen a different spot to fish. I am very glad I didn’t! Since that day I have learned so much more about fishing high water. I hope to share a little more of what my fly fishing friends and I have learned in the next post.