HIGH LOW, HIGH LOW, WHERE IN THE WATER TO GO?
By Montana Grant

Posted: June 23, 2022

 Many anglers get frustrated about when to fish. The rivers are too high, the water is off color, the fish won’t be biting. These are typical reasons why fishermen never leave the truck.

Fish when you can! Fish must eat if the rivers are high, muddy, or not in pristine condition. A good fisherman adapts, adjusts, and figures it out! 

The recent 1,000 flood in Montana is when you do not fish! Normal high flows can be rather good fishing. In muddy and high-water events, fish tend to group together near the banks, behind shoreline structure, and more accessible to anglers. The off-color water prevents raptors and predators from seeing these shallow, stacked fish.

For a fisherman, where you catch one you will catch more. I once was trout fishing along a stream called Deer Creek. A small water gauge dam crossed the creek. My Dad took us fishing most Sundays to allow Mom some free time. We fished in any, and all conditions. On this day, it was raining, the creek was chocolate, and the dam was rolling. Only one corner near the shore was fishable. A back eddy formed in a spot that was normally a shallow nothing spot. Since I was bored and frustrated, I sat on the dam and fished the eddy. Within 10 minutes, I had netted a limit of rainbows! My brother and Dad all did the same in a spot no bigger than a truck tire.

Walk quietly along the bank and fish places you normally would exclude. A fish only needs a few inches of water to stay safe. Fish must eat! Even when the water is high, muddy, or rough, a fish’s body requires nourishment. Worms and other yummies are often washed into the shallow areas. These shallow edges can set up to be a fish buffet!

So what flies, lures, or baits work best under these conditions? Think about what is getting washed into the river. This means worms, insects, and small mammals. Big insect larvae or grubs are also on the list. Whatever you choose, slow down your approach and drift. The high water is faster. The slower you can drift your rig, the more time a fish has to grab it.

Trash and Flash are also important. You need extra shine for the fish to quickly see something, anything. Once they see a target, the strikes will be quick. Set the hook and walk the fish away from the spot so you don’t scare the rest of the school. If returning the fish, do so in a calm, slower water spot that has some protection from the rough and high water.

Fishing isn’t always about catching fish. Its nice to get outdoors and fish are often just the excuse. Fishing on harsh days will teach you more than fishing on nice, comfortable days. You will also be surprised when you find a way to catch some fish in harsh conditions. Your skill level and tactics will grow.

Go with the flow!

Montana Grant