Runoff can be a four letter word to some trout fishermen. That muddy water period between spring and summer that many deem “unfishable” is actually extremely important to the overall health of the fishery. Runoff is when the river gets its annual cleaning, and despite the increase in river flow and color, fish can still be caught! Here are some pointers to help you get the most out of your fishing time during mud season.
- Before you even step in the river, fish the soft edges along the river bank. This is a theme I see throughout all periods of the year, not just runoff, people standing where they should be fishing. This is especially important to pay attention to during runoff as the added river flows have the fish sitting on the edges, not in the middle of the river.
- Alter your fly selection. Go bigger, brighter, and pick flies that offer better contrast. You want to be fishing the meat and potato rigs. Black stands out well in stained water, as do bright colors like pink and red. The increased flows also dislodge some of the big bugs from the river bottom. Stoneflies and craneflies are my go to’s.
- Rope up. Fish won’t be spooky during these conditions. You want to be fishing heavy line, this will be helpful turning the fish if they get out in the fast water mid river.
- Consider fishing drop shot rigs. You have to get deep to find fish but also more than likely won’t be able to see many of the snags in the river causing you to lose a lot of flies. Drop shot rigs are a great set up for this style of fishing as they will get your flies in the zone, but also not cause you to lose them as frequently when you snag on the bottom.
- Monitor stream flows. There is a point where things become unfishable or simply not safe to be out there. Don’t push your luck, the rivers usually spike pretty good when the first wave of snowmelt starts to release but they will come down soon.
- Don’t forget about stillwaters. Runoff is a great time to up your game on lakes and reservoirs. For more on fishing stillwaters, check out a previous post here.
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