The deluge is upon us, so BC fly fishing enthusiasts will have to work around conditions. Many anglers wait for beautiful weather, but the fish are still there and they’re still hungry.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of high water fishing.
The BC River Forecast Centre has rescinded its high streamflow advisories for the Upper Fraser, the Lower Fraser, and the North Thompson Rivers, but high streamflow advisories and flood warnings are in effect for the Interior, such as the Columbia, Salmo and Slocan Rivers.
In high water, fish have the same needs as at other times of the year – find food, shelter from strong currents, and hide from predators. With turbid water and low visibility, predators are less of a threat, but the fish need to seek shelter from the strong water flows.
Seeing food can be difficult during high water, but new food sources are available as insects that normally hide in amongst rocks are disturbed and terrestrial insects are swept into the flow.
There are always areas of the river or stream that are clearer; check the difference between one bank and another, as the speed of the current or where tributaries enter can affect visibility. If a tributary is dumping silty water, a mud line will occur, and a fisherman can aim for the clear side of the line or cast into the muddy water and retrieve the fly back into the clearer zone. As long as you have 2 feet of visibility, you have a good chance of catching something.
In peak flows, fish are often forced along the banks where friction slows the water speed. They shelter in backwaters, and the gentler water on the inside of bends, tuck in around boulders or other obstructions, near undercut banks and on or near the river bottom. Each of these slower zones also harbour food.
Here are a few more fly fishing tips for heavy water:
- beef up your tackle
- use larger and bushier flies and flashier streamers so the fish can see them
- take your time; leave your fly in their line of sight for as long as possible
Don’t let the high water keep you from fly fishing – they’re still out there and as they say “A bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work” If you’re a BC fly fishing guide, any day is a good day at work.