Fishing high, stained water can be very rewarding. If you have not tried it, you might be missing out. As spring approaches and the rains pick up, most of the rivers around me will be running high and stained. When I started fishing, I thought if it was raining or the river was running stained the fish would not bite. However, over the years, I’ve been proven wrong time and time again. Here are a few tips for fishing high, stained water.
Know your river
How much rain can your home waters hold before turning to mud? This is an important question that most outfitters will know. No one wants to cancel a guided trip because of high water. Therefore, most outfitters determine whether or not the can fish the next day by the amount of rain that’s predicted. Typically, for a small river, you can still fish it with 2 or 3 inches of water. It is also important to know if there are any large streams or creeks that feed into the river you fish. If there are some larger streams or creeks, they will flush runoff quicker into the river and blow it out. If this happens to your river you may need to try going further upstream to fish or try these options.
If your home waters are blown out, try going to a smaller stream. They will typically clear out and drop in height quicker than the main river in the area.
Fish the Banks
Usually there is some slack water on one of the two banks. The goal here will be to fish the line where the current and slack water meet. Fish will move to the slower water on the banks to hold and conserve energy, but will still feed.
Fish the currents
Look for the area where the fast current meets a slower current. Like fishing the slack water on the banks, fish will hold in the slower current and dart out into the faster current to feed. Work the current line and weigh down your flies. Work from the stream bed to the surface. I have caught fish dragging bottom as well as with a dry dropper rig. You may need to use some trial and error to locate the fish, but they’ll be there.
When fishing high/stained water, please use common sense and sound judgement when it comes to wading. Be safe and if you think it’s a bad idea, then it probably is.