Runoff is coming but that is no excuse to spend your weekends on the couch. I talk with a lot of people who get intimidated by the high water but my advice to you is to use that high water to your advantage! The following 5 points will help you have a more successful runoff and have you excited for large snowpacks in future seasons.
- You can rope up. By this I mean you can get away with fishing heavier line. The fish wont be leader shy during high flows. Fishing with thicker line will also help you land some of the fish that get out in the heavy current.
- Find soft pockets. This one is pretty obvious but the important thing to take away here is when you find an area holding fish, don’t be too quick to leave! There are fewer spots in a river for fish to hold comfortably during runoff. Once you find a fish, there are usually a bunch of others in there with it.
- Use large or flashy flies. Your tippet size isn’t the only thing you should increase during runoff. I also use much larger and heavier flies. This is the time of year to bring out the big bead heads and flies tied with heavy underbodies. I also will use added flash or bright flies that normally would spook fish. One of my go to runoff patterns is a chartreuse trout bead. This fly can scare fish in low or clear flows but if you try it during runoff, you will see why people say, “If it ain’t chartreuse it ain’t no use!”
- Target newly formed channels. High flows can get the water moving outside the traditional riverbank. When the water gets up, new side channels are often formed. The fish love to move into these areas to escape the turbulent water. All of these newly formed side channels are worth a thorough look.
- High flows can kick fish out. The extra water will help move out some of those trophies that are normally stuck on the bottom during the day. Some of the biggest fish I have seen on my home rivers come out during runoff or periods of high flows, only to disappear the rest of the year.
When fishing runoff you may have to leave the dry flies and 5X behind, but don’t let some extra water or low visibility in your favorite river keep you from fishing! I always tell people, “winners adjust out there” and this couldn’t be more true during runoff. Use that high water to your advantage this spring/early summer and go catch some fish!
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