Fish Sniffer On Demand Digital Edition 3812 May 24- June 7 2019 - Page 8
May 24 - June 7, 2019
VOL.38 • ISS. 12
Catch & Release Fishing!
Hook More & Bigger Fish With Flies...
The Low Down On High Water Nymphing!
High water nymph tactics accounted for this impressive
Sacramento River rainbow during an early May adventure.
Photo courtesy of JASON THATCHER, River Pursuit Guide Service.
The first few
months of 2019
have been wet
voirs are at, or
than usual, and
be for most
of the spring
tunities for the fly angler.
One of the first things we should all be aware of is safety around the higher,
colder water. Moving water becomes even less forgiving and extra care should
be taken when boating or wading. When boating, the increased flows will make
a river far more ‘pushy’ and an operator will need to plan movements such as
obstacle avoidance well in advance. Looking even farther ahead and thinking
a few moves ahead than usual is critical to avoid getting in trouble. If wading,
consider wearing a PFD, use a wading staff, and always wear your wading belt.
Pretty common sense stuff, right?
A great advantage to fishing in high flows is it tends to concentrate fish in the
soft water. Sometimes soft water is at a premium and it holds ALL the fish! For
example, I often fish the Sacra-
mento River at very high flows
from a drift boat with nymphing
gear. Every soft spot has trout in
it. The flows become so heavy in
90% of the water, it pushes the
trout to the edges. We will throw
our rigs into the back eddies
created by flooded blackberry
bushes and trees. If the cast is
accurate, its fish on!
When breaking down a partic-
ular piece of high water, look for
current breaks, structure, back
eddies, and softer water mere feet
from the banks. Anything that
In order to get your nymphs down in big flows, offers relief from the big water.
You might be shocked at how
you’ll need a selection of split shot. This
English split shot consists of lead mixed with
tightly the fish get sucked up to
tin, so the shot are easy to remove from the
a bank. The inside bends and the
line should you want to go lighter.
downstream side of islands should
Photo by CAL KELLOGG, Fish Sniffer Staff.
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be targeted as well. I recall
one particular summer of
guiding in Alaska where
there was an excess of
water early in the trout
fishing season. At first
glance, the usually small
streams looked too big to
fish, however, on closer
inspection we found that
every inside bend was abso-
lutely loaded with trout and
char. Epic fishing ensued!
As far as rigging goes, I
commonly use an indicator
When the water is high leave the small nymphs at
set up with two flies and
home. Instead go with medium and large flies like the
split shot for extra weight.
ones shown here.
Length of leader, amount
Photo by CAL KELLOGG, Fish Sniffer Staff.
of weight, and size of the
indicator is all dictated by
what piece of water I’m on and how big the flows are. In general, though, I will
size everything up. More weight, heavier leader and tippet, and a larger sized fly.
The higher flows often mean less visibility underwater, and less reaction time
for a fish to identify your presentation and decide to take a swipe at it. Go bigger
and brighter or bigger and contrasting (black caddis or stoneflies) to give those
fish an extra moment or so to see your fly coming. I will often fish an egg pattern
with a nymph dropper. If I would usually be throwing a #16 prince for example,
I would size up to a 12, maybe even bigger.
Be prepared for extra strain on your tackle once you hook up. Often times you
will be fighting a fish that’s using huge water to its advantage, or you will be
trying to steer it away from submerged obstructions. Consider going up a weight
or two with rod selection, and as mentioned earlier, scale up your leader/tippet
(you can easily get away with it in the more turbid water).
Just because the rivers and streams are big doesn’t mean you have to sit at
home. If there is a little bit
of visibility in the water,
you have the option to be
fishing. Who knows, it might
be the best action of the year
with literally nobody else
out there. Keep safety at the
forefront and enjoy a unique
fly fishing opportunity!
Want to fish with Jason
Thatcher for trout, salmon
or steelhead and learn the
fine points? Book a trip with
River Pursuit Guide Service!
Indicators are must have accessories for working
You can check them out
online at www.riverpursuit. nymphs in deep water. Think of indicators as bobbers
for fly anglers.
Photo courtesy of FLY GEAR AND MORE, Oregon.
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