High Water Techniques and Strategies - Fly Fishing Forum
Pacific Northwest Sea Run Forum No such thing as rainbow trout, only landlocked steelhead

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Old 01-13-2006, 07:36 PM
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High Water Techniques and Strategies

Looks like we're going to have bank-full drifts for some time to come. Got me wondering about successful techniques for high, dirty water fishing, given that this may be an oxymoronic subject.

Fish can be caught in high water -- but, for me it's proven damned difficult. From what I've been able to gather, and from very limited success, seems like you want to fish close to the stream edge with large, intensely colored flies, and try to find those little lay-bys where fish are wont to rest. If you find what looks like a good spot during high water, you might as well give it lots of attention, as in repeated passes, as the fish are likely moving and maybe a taker will show up in the slot.

Also, small streams are better bets, it would seem. They clear quicker and the fish are more accessible, even if the water is off color.

What, though, are the best techniques for high water fishing? Curious minds want to know.

Cheers,

Eric
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  #2  
Old 01-13-2006, 11:16 PM
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My first approach would always drive upriver to try to find clean water assuming the fish could get there as well in higher flow. But in many rivers up high means canyons and hard water to swing. Also the runs might just be coming in and there are no fish up top just yet so all the action's down near tidewater.

Thinking back I've had my best success fishing chocolate milk in those little rest areas you mentioned, and usually with a popsicle, a black or purple bunny rat, etc.

On one occasion I hooked 4 good steelhead in the wake of the very boulder I was standing on (about the size of a small car and mostly under water). One of these mid-winter fish was in the 17 # class. My partner could not believe his eyes - I barely had any line out and the fish would pull the rod out of my hands.

On another memorable occasion there was a raging creek putting a slightly lighter shade of brown into the bigger brown torrent and I did well on a red over orange over white popsicle fished slow on a lighter type II tip, letting it languish on the hang down quite a bit.

I have never hooked a fish in the heart of the current when high and colored. I'm sure you could if you set up in the right position so the fly could hit the depth needed.
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Old 01-13-2006, 11:28 PM
Moonlight Moonlight is offline
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So Eric....

Bee-ing in the middle of the rain of terror I would interject that there are indeed small streams and even a few "still waters " that should be interviewed during this breif but seemingly lengthy holiday from our normal pursuits!
As Marketic so eloquently put it "Pray for High pressure"
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Old 01-14-2006, 03:41 PM
fredaevans fredaevans is offline
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If possible, fish within 3-4 foot of the bank in under 3 feet of water. Inside a curve even better; current flow (or comparitively lack there of) 'is king.' Bad news is you're 'plunking' with a fly rod.
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Old 01-14-2006, 05:13 PM
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This is something I have done before with much success in a local stream. Large weighted bunny leaches or maribou flies (up to 1/10th oz lead eyes) under an indicator (_sometimes_ indicators as big as a #2 cheater are required, usually not though). This allows you to successfully fish 1-5ft from the bank you are standing on. Casting upstream or feeding line downstream.

Although this is not a traditional fly fishing method, it is no different than nymphing.
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Old 01-16-2006, 04:25 PM
fredaevans fredaevans is offline
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Before I forget, don't ignore the use of short lengths of bicycle chain for sink tips.
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Old 01-16-2006, 04:56 PM
KerryS KerryS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelheadKid
Large weighted bunny leaches or maribou flies (up to 1/10th oz lead eyes) under an indicator (_sometimes_ indicators as big as a #2 cheater are required, usually not though). This allows you to successfully fish 1-5ft from the bank you are standing on. Casting upstream or feeding line downstream.

Hey Sparky, you got any input on this
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Old 01-16-2006, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KerryS
Hey Sparky, you got any input on this
just search some of my old posts.
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Old 01-16-2006, 10:20 PM
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Ryan -

I heard you scored tickets to Qwest for Saturday's game! How was that?
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Old 01-17-2006, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by juro
Ryan -

I heard you scored tickets to Qwest for Saturday's game! How was that?
ticketmaster.com ....but they didn't come through for me yesterday for the Game. They were sold out in seconds and a couple thousand bastards were a split second quicker then me at 10 am.
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Old 01-17-2006, 10:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NrthFrk16
just search some of my old posts.
Explain Please.
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Old 01-18-2006, 12:29 AM
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steelheadkid,

First off welcome to the forum, we always like to see new blood. Most of us here only swing flies in a traditional way. But don't let that stop you from posting. Nrthfrk16 was this kid not so long ago who used to post about chucking lead up stream a whole lot if I remember right. Now we all knew him from his hard work in organizations like the WSC so we would give him a hard time about chucking it up. If you keep on posting here and we get to know you we may give you a hard time too but take it with a grain of salt, we are a hard lot but we have fun. Anyway you will find on this site some of the best steelheaders in the NW. Like I said they are a hard lot but get to know them like Nrthfrk 16 did. He made a lot of friends I would venture to say by observing and posting. I'm pretty sure Nrthfrk only swings flies now unless he is fishing with his snoopy rod. Some say he is going to be famous many of us already think he is. He is better known as Sparky now. Look up some of his posts from the past I think you will like them.

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Old 01-18-2006, 09:58 AM
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I've only caught one steelhead since the Fall, and that was the week after Christmas. The fish took about 4 feet from shore and the fly was never farther than 8 feet out the whole morning. I can't be specific about the technique for fear of out-declassing anything sparkey EVER posted, but if you are old enough you will recognize the first two lines of this song from a commercial and figure out the technique.

"What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs and makes a *****ity sound?"

A fast ten foot 8 weight is all you need for this technique. Tippy action is best.
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Old 01-18-2006, 02:07 PM
tbuehrens tbuehrens is offline
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philster- plunking with a flyrod doesn't count!
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Old 01-18-2006, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster
I've only caught one steelhead since the Fall, and that was the week after Christmas. The fish took about 4 feet from shore and the fly was never farther than 8 feet out the whole morning. I can't be specific about the technique for fear of out-declassing anything sparkey EVER posted, but if you are old enough you will recognize the first two lines of this song from a commercial and figure out the technique.

"What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs and makes a *****ity sound?"

A fast ten foot 8 weight is all you need for this technique. Tippy action is best.
I have heard about that technique but never found a place where a fast sinking tip didn't do the job just fine. (I can't believe I know that song)

Actually, I have rarely ever nymphed and usually swing bunny leeches or glo-bugs. However, in some rivers in high water no swinging approach will ever present a fly to the fish properly (I can explain some situations if you like), and in these situations I have employed the tactic I spoke about above.

I find it funny when I speak to fly-fishermen who talk about all the days they stayed at home because the rivers were not in prime shape. These are the same fishermen who find it necessary to limit themselves to one way of presenting a fly. I find no shame in nymphing no fly-fisherman should. I drift fish and float fish from time to time too; however I have find that I am doing it less and less now that I am employing new fly-fishing tactics such as nymphing. I would rather pull out the baitcaster and a handfull of corkies and yarnballs and go drift fish in high raging water than sit at home watching The Weather Channel praying for a dry cold snap to calm and clear up the rivers. But that is just me.

Last edited by SteelheadKid; 01-18-2006 at 09:23 PM. Reason: No reason
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