Fishing Stained Water

News & Tips: Fishing Stained Water

Every summer when the heavy rains hit, it seems like our favorite rivers muddy up for an eternity. At this point during the summer season, fly anglers have a choice: Either start fishing local lakes and reservoirs or find ways to catch fish in these adverse river conditions.

FishingStainedWater blog
If dealing with muddy water, one tip is to try fishing bigger flies.

There are a few ways for fly anglers to deal with the stained conditions. One idea is that anglers can move further up steam to find clearer water. In almost all cases as you approach the headwaters, rivers decrease in size (less feeder streams entering the river which helps lessen sediment load getting pushed into the river). The headwaters of rivers don't always hold the most or largest of trout but in these tough times it can make for a fun day casting flies.

If you plan on trying to gut it out and fish the mud, there are a few tips that can make your day go a bit better. First and foremost, fish slow. Fish in these types of conditions have a hard time picking up drifted or stripped flies so you need to give them as much of an opportunity as possible. A lot of times it will seem as if fish in muddy conditions follow flies in right up to your feet before striking. Repeated drifts covering all the fishable water will give you the best chance at hooking up. If you are not having any luck drifting flies, switch to stripping streamers aggressively. The agitation and commotion caused by stripping in these large flies can help trout to find your fly as it moves.

The size of flies matters in these types of conditions as well. The bigger they get the better they seem to work. This falls under the same idea that fish really have a hard time finding flies in muddy water so giving them a bigger target sometimes really helps. Generally nymphs in sizes 6 to 8 and streamers from size 2 to 4 seem to work best. I have not had any luck with dries or wet flies in these types of conditions. The color consideration of flies is important for fly anglers to think about. Dark natural tones like olive, brown and black standout in these types of conditions and help fish key in on what is floating by.

Fishing stained water is not for the faint of heart. Fly anglers should expect to work hard for trout in these types of conditions but persistence will pay off. Just because all other anglers choose to avoid the muddy water doesn't mean you cannot catch quality fish in these adverse water conditions.