You can catch fish in high, stained water. It just might take some trial and error to hone in on what the trout are feeding on. Remember that as it rains, the runoff will flush a smorgasbord of food into the rivers and streams allowing for a buffet style eatery for the trout. If fishing natural does not work you can always switch to junk flies, dark colored streamers, leach patterns or go bright. Be creative!
Weight is key when it comes to high stained water. If you prefer to fish deep runs, then you want your flies to be able to get down to where the fish are. This can be achieved by adding split shot or using lead/tungsten bead headed flies. You need to get the flies down. If you are fishing a run that is only a couple of feet deep you can still get away with a dry dropper rig. What I will do is typically use a stimulator or larger dry as my indicator and drop a weighted nymph a few feet off the back of the fly. If you are fishing a line where a fast and slow current meet you could always tempt a trout to rise and eat the nymph.
Flies to use
As stated before, when the water rises the river becomes a buffet for trout. They get a whole lot more options of what to eat than if they were only keyed in on a small natural fly. Runoff brings insects and worms into the river and the trout will eat them. I will typically start off with a natural food source similar to what’s currently hatching. I will also use a large, gnarly looking fly to grab the attention of the trout such as a leech pattern, a junk fly or a large stone fly pattern.
If these are not working I will start switching between different flies until I can hone in on the natural or junk fly pattern they might be keyed in on. I have fished pink, orange, red, yellow and black flies trying to figure out if there is a color they want. If I’m fishing a run that I know holds trout, I will switch flies about every 5 minutes so I am not wasting time. The goal is to figure out what they want so you can have a challenging, but rewarding day.
Stay tuned for part 3 of fishing High and Stained water next week!
Joe with Monthly Fly