Fly Fishing Tips During Spring Runoff

Don’t let muddy water keep you indoors when the runoff challenges you. Seize the day. Use our favorite fly fishing tips to make your spring fishing trips easier. Know what to do when the mud murks up the water and the fish and bugs activate. Be careful, use good technique, and know where to find those hungry fish.

Avid fly fishers welcome springtime challenges. Even when last year’s riffle or run washes out, they lure beautiful trout in unlikely places. Let’s talk about how to enjoy this year’s muddy fishing season. Expert anglers share a list of tips..


Watch the Weather

Check with USGS or a fly shop to zero-in on conditions. Rain and warming temperatures certainly affect the snowmelt. Before planning your fishing trip, check the forecast. Remember, afternoon sunshine intensifies the flow just like heavy rainfall, foretelling a difficult day on the river. So, pay attention to the weather preceding your fishing trip. The more intense the melt or rain, the more substrate from the river bottom and banks add to the murky conditions. And always wait for the water level to recede a bit after a storm or you could end up in a predicament.

Risks Not to Take

Just don’t risk it. Stay out of the water when it’s pounding down the river. Wading is hazardous. It is extremely dangerous to travel side to side during the runoff. Pick a side and stay put.

At the very least, the current will move you down river. To manage that situation, start upstream and use a wading staff. Walk sideways with the current, one sure-footed step at a time. Remember, strong currents can pull you down or throw you off balance. This is probably the time to fish from a boat.


Go Bigger and Flashier

Smaller winter nymphs don’t work well during spring melt. Hungry fish swimming around in cloudy water need to notice the bait. In dirty water, your lure needs to be bigger and flashier. Use larger attractor patterns the fish will see, like the cone-head Wholly Sculpin.

Sparkle catches the eye, too. Choose bright, gaudy bugs in colors that stand out. These include black, chartreuse, purple, red, or white.

Great Big Flies

Go for great big flies when you are looking for trophy fish. That means jumbo streamers like Pat’s Rubber Leg with its underbelly of lead wraps. So, bring out the flashy streamers like Zonkers and the Double Bunny. Or consider adding rattles to the streamer to wow those hungry fellows. The extra bling draws attention to the bug and increases your chances of hooking a lasting memento. Streamers work well using a dead drift that just moves along with the current.

Make Waves

Spring is not the time to use your splash free cast. When the water is off-colored, use flies that make waves in the water–worms, articulated streamers, and of course, Pat’s Rubber Legs. Larger indicator, think thingamabobbers, support heavy rigs.

Careful Play

Be aware of the influence of higher flow rates and play carefully. You do not want a strong current to break off your catch. Let the fish run and slowly maneuver towards the net.


Explore Protected Nooks and Crannies

Float trips help with this one. High runoff flows move the fish quickly and they don’t always like it. These bothered fish often rest and feed in softer areas to avoid tumbling water rolling off the mountainsides. Runoff forces trout from typical holds towards the edges. Anglers can find these protected waters along the banks and in eddies and side channels, even in rocky places now covered with water. A boat can take you to these low velocity waters.

Go Deep and Heavy

But other fish stay deep. They want nothing to do with the fast water. Use heavily weighted flies to get them down and in front of the fish. Also, when the water is off color, use larger split-shot in front of streamers and nymphs. In faster waters, use two-to-three times heavier leaders and tippet. Also, try sinking the 5-inch Polyleader from Airflo with floating fly lines to get deep. The deeper the water, the longer the leader must be.

Tailwaters and Lakes

If all else fails during spring runoff, you might do best skipping the rivers. Go directly to the clear waters at the tailwaters under a dam. Large volumes of water released through a dam form pools or tailwaters.

So now the fish dump into new fast-moving water. And, of course, fly fishing on a high mountain lake can be rewarding. Hungry trout swim near the shore and you can cast parallel to a dock. When the lakes ice off, a medium-sinking line can go deep after the fish.

Brokers Who Love Fishing – River Ranches for Sale

When snow melts and runs down the mountains, rivers and streams quickly increase their flows. This kicks up sediment and turns the water murky colors. Not to worry. We anglers can experience good days by following the fish to edges and crannies and feeding them big, colorful flies. Fish often and you’ll get the idea.

To learn about Rocky Mountain fishing ranches for sale in New Mexico, Colorado and north into Montana, call Harrigan Land Company at 303-908-1101.

We have over 30 years of experience throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana and New Mexico. We know these states well, including some “undiscovered” places. We are offering best hunting ranches for sale along with other premier properties
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