Trout Fishing in High Water, Murky Water, and Difficult Conditions
The weather during this spring of 2019 has been relentless. Torrential downpours have been common which is bad news for trout fisherman. Big and popular trout streams have been high and muddy all too much this spring. It seems like as soon as they finally get back down to a fishable level, more rain comes and cranks them right back up again. What is the best option when your favorite creek is blown out and looks like chocolate milk? Find another option. The answer is really that simple. At least it sounds simple, but can sometimes be a challenge to execute. Here are some tips to use for finding places to trout fish when it seems like the high water will never go away.
Check the smaller streams
In many areas of Pennsylvania, we are fortunate to have lots of options when it comes to trout streams. We have plenty of big and wide streams that are the first ones to be blown out with heavy rain. We have medium-sized streams ranging from ten to twenty feet in width. And then we have the small native trout streams. Many trout fisherman do not know about how many opportunities we have on small, Class A trout streams. The PA Fish and Boat Commission website can be used to find these streams. Many times streams this small will be in decent shape within hours after a heavy rain. During a spring and early summer like the one we’re having, these small streams can be a great way to get on trout when all other creeks are unfishable. Another bonus of fishing them soon after rain is the fact that the water will usually be slightly off-color. Trying to go undetected from these spooky native trout when the water is crystal clear can be a big challenge. Water that is slightly off-color, but not muddy, is the best situation for these small streams.
Use water gauges and online stream reports
A very useful tool to use when trying to find out water levels of streams is the US Army Corps of Engineers. They have several water gauges set up on streams used to measure the water level. Search the stream conditions for the creek you are looking for and you will find the USGS water gauge for that creek if there is one on it. This is an extremely useful tool for finding the live conditions of a stream. It will often display the gauge height in feet, the water discharge in cubic feet per second, the recent precipitation, and water temperature.
Use experience to find the “water-resistant streams”
When a big rain comes through and blows out creeks, there are those that seem like they take forever to go back down in water level. On the other hand, there are some that will go back down relatively quickly, and some that will be less likely to get blown out in the first place. This is where previous knowledge comes in to play. The more you have trout fished in the past the better. With experience comes a good knowledge of these creeks that seems to drop back down in water level the quickest or the ones that seem to be less likely to be high in the first place. Fisherman looking to fish for stocked fish on something bigger than small native streams should look for medium-sized streams that have a minimal amount of feeder streams dumping extra water in.
Expand your search
When creeks nearby are high and muddy fishermen need to be willing to expand their search to farther distances to find fishable water. This spring some storms and rain showers have been extremely spotty. It might have down-poured at your local stream five minutes away but been completely dry at another spot twenty minutes down the road. That situation has been quite common in recent weeks. Just because your local stream is blown out doesn’t mean everything within driving distance is.
Flies and bait to use in high and off-color water: