Blown Rivers and Steelhead

Fly Fishing Blown Rivers for Steelhead Rainbow Trout

Fly fishing in Ontario – Fishing blown rivers for steelhead can be a daunting task. With the proper presentation and techniques, you could be the only one on the river catching fish when its running high and dirty!

Most anglers have limited time to spend on the river steelheading. Many are restricted by work (or spouses!) to only fish on weekends or random weekdays off work. Unfortunately, this may not correspond to ideal river conditions.

Most people will check a forum or website to see about water clarity and flows. Under almost all combinations of the 2, the river is fishable usingvarious techniques. After a snow and rainfall, sometimes the river is ?blown?, and posted as such. I?m not talking about times when there are houses, cars, livestock, and trees coming down the river, but when it?s over the banks by 5 or 10 feet or more, brown, and just snorting by.

Its like the time you got to the parking lot or the bridge, look at the river, and decide you?re not even going to take the rod out of the car and are going back home. But you notice the one and only one truck in the parking lot and decide it belongs to a hiker or kayaker. In fact, it?s probably my buddies and I fishing.

If there is 4 to 6? of water clarity, you could be in for some super fishing. All you have to do is get to the right place. You can?t fish most of the river because the velocity of the flow is too fast for most, if not all presentations, and the fish are not going to be there anyway. Water velocity will be less along the riverbank and could hold some fish. What you are looking for are areas of quiet water away from the main current of the river, like an eddy or the inside curve of a river bend. That?s where the fish are going to be resting and stacked up. The problem is getting ½ a km. down the river to the spot. The path by the riverbank is 1-2 feet underwater. There is dense thicket and brush everywhere. All the grass is no longer standing but lying in the water like spaghetti in a pot and you have to step over it like you are going up the stairs, 2 or 3 steps at a time- for ½ a km. If you are old enough, by the time you get there, you’ll be older, and you will have pulled every muscle in your groin except for one, had leg cramps, and had what might have been a minor cardiac arrest. Truth is, you will be so sore and beat at this point, that you will fish there all day just because you can?t go back.

>When you are fishing ?the spot?, the disadvantage of the poor water clarity will be partially offset by the very slow water current that will give more opportunity for the steelhead to smell and/or see your presentation. Better yet is the fact that you are partially paralyzed and you are there for the day. This will result in up to a thousand drifts depending on how long the eddy is. The odds are on your side. If the steelhead are stacked up there, may be you could have a 20 or 30 fish day. We have. In fact, our 2 best days ever were when ?the river was blown? and there was no one else fishing.

It should be noted that walking the river and flooded areas, under these conditions, could be extremely dangerous. Use common sense. A belt around your waist is mandatory (assuming you are wearing waders!) as well as a walking stick. With the reduced water clarity, falling into a pothole is possible; falling into the frigid current would likely be fatal. Extreme care should be taken and one should never go alone. If the radio and TV are warning parents to not let children near swollen rivers and creeks, DON?T GO, you just don?t want to be on the local news that day.

We have numerous rivers to choose from in our area. All may be ?blown? on the same day, but all will have varying water clarity. That is why you should be able to find some place to fish and maybe have your best day. One last thing, this is going to be a catch and release day. With that long, slow, painful walk ahead, you?ll be happy just to get your own carcass back to the truck!

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