We’ve waited all winter for the chance to get into that stream or stand along the bank of that river. Its time, but fast water from spring runoff can make things challenging and dangerous.
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Fast Water Means Safety First
We should think about safety when we think of the fun of fishing in spring runoff. Ultimately, we want to be around to fish the rest of the year.
Fishing a lake, swollen by spring run off, is the same as when the lake is low. Always have adequate floatation devices on board if using a boat. Knowing the bank is important when fishing from the shore.
Keep Kids Out of Fast Water
The Center for Disease Control reported that in 2011, about 52% of child drownings occurred in natural settings. There are no statistics on what percentage of these accidents occur during fishing. Always monitor children when near the water.
- Monitor a child every 5- 10 minutes.
- Insist that a floatation devise be worn even if the child can swim.
- Keep children out of fast flowing water.
- Pick a fishing spot for a child.
Fast Water Safety Tips for Adults
- For fast water, new to you, ask about conditions at a tackle store.
- Wear belted chest waders not hip waders.
- Go into the water off mud or sand to avoid entry from rocks.
- When possible, don’t lift your feet when walking in current.
- Walk with your shoulders parallel to the banks when possible.
- Use a walking or “wading” stick.
- Walk on land getting as close as possible to where you want to fish before entering the water.
- Get out of the stream to move to a new spot in the stream.
- Try to avoid fishing alone in fast water.
Fast Water Fishing
Fast water carries crubs, worms, beetles, ants and all kinds of other food. Consequently, spring run off is a great place to use live bait or imitation baits. The water is moving fast so hits are hard and instinctive. As a result, fish will hit what appears to be food immediately spitting out what isn’t. Usually, the hit seals the deal.
While both dry and wet flies will work in the eddies behind rocks and across deep, smooth run off pools, streamers work best in fast, high water. Throwing a streamer across the current allowing it to work into the current and the retrieval can be deadly. With extremely high water, a weighted line works best.
Spoons and Spinners
Casting across the flow and retrieving through the current accentuates the action of most of these lures. Smaller lures work best. Usually, they gain the depth needed to be effective as line is pulled across the current after the cast. I have found that golds and yellows work best in fast water.
Even if there is no row visible in the water, a row sack will often be effective where fast water flows into a deep pool. Even a single salmon egg rig can be productive in fast water. Artificial baits that imitate row are also great. However, new bait should be purchased each year as opened jars tend to dry out.
Weights and Rigs
Experience will dictate how you rig whatever bait or lure you use. In any case, in fast water, the bait should be in the center of the current,as much as possible, not bouncing off the bottom or swirling on the surface.
Any weight on the line can ruin action of spoons and spinners. The best technique is to throw the lure across the current allowing it to sink a bit as the line is pulled into the current. By the time the lure is in the current, the depth should be good.
The same technique can be used for streamers.
Live bait and naturals may need weight 6″- 8″ inches up the line to help them reach a good depth. The amount of Estimate the amount of weight needed and adjust as necessary. Of course, the bait will drift higher than the weight by the amount of line between bait and weight.
Spring thaw can mean a feeding frenzy for fish as food rushes by in the current. Because of this, its a great time to present bait and enjoy the fight enhanced by the current.
Take a moment to leave a comment below. Do you enjoy fishing in the spring runoff? What is your preferred bait at this time of year?