Where To Fish?
Banks: The bank is where the water meets land. Anglers walk the banks but should be careful because depending on the flows and river, fish tend to hangout on the banks. Banks provide a different menu than the middle of the river. Terrestrials and small animals such as mice can fall into the river and make for a hearty meal. The banks become the angler’s best friend when it comes to runoff and general high water periods.
Eddy: A section of the river where a whirlpool is created due to an indent in the river bank or a large structure obstructing the flow of the river. Trout enjoy feeding in eddy’s because the swirling motion will trap insects making for an easy snack. Eddy’s are also great to target during runoff periods as fish will find easy meals and slow currents.
Pocket Water: The slow water in front or behind an obstruction in the river such as large rocks or fallen debris. The obstruction creates a slow moving pocket of water that provides fish refuge from faster moving currents.
Pools: The pool is the deepest section of the river and has the slowest current. This makes drifting drag free flies a breeze. Fish seek the deep pools on sunny days and in the winter for protection. When in a pool, trout are typically the least active.
Riffles: The rocky and typically shallow part of the river. Riffles are the section of the river with significant surface disturbance or “choppy water”. Riffles can be ideal holding areas for trout because they carry an abundance of oxygen and the rocks can provide shelter for the trout. Riffles become a common holding area for trout in the warmer months.
Runs: A run is found directly below the riffle. In the run, the water depth deepens and the currents are consistent. The run is a favorite holding place for trout year round due to the shelter provided by the deepwater and the close proximity to the buffet line (a.k.a riffle).
Seams: a seam is a spot in the river where two currents that differ in speed, meet. Seams act as a feeding lane for trout and are usually a safe bet when looking to locate actively feeding fish.
Tail out: The shallow and flat section at the end of pool. The tail out separates the pool and the start of a new riffle. When water flows from the pool, a natural funnel is formed which makes the trout’s search for food easy. Tail outs are also a great place to fish dry flies.
Tail water: Rivers or streams located immediately downstream of a dam or other hydroelectric facility that is subject to changes in flow due to varying water release rates. Anglers are especially grateful for tail waters in that you can fish them year round and make for the ideal environment for trout. The consistent temperatures and generally silt free water releases allow for insects to flourish providing trout with an abundant food source.
There are a number of great tail waters in Colorado. The Blue River, South Platte Dream Stream, South Platte Deckers, and South Platte 11-Mile Canyon are just a few of our favorites.
What to Fish?
Attractor Pattern: Imitates nothing and attracts everything in hopes of motivating fish to feed. They are generally bright in color and utilize flashy material. Examples include: Rainbow Warriors and the Higas SOS.
Dry Fly (Dries): An above surface fly that imitates the adult stage of a fly’s life cycle. Dry Flies can imitate Midges, Caddis, Mayflies and Stoneflies.
Imitative Pattern: Are fly patterns that are meant to imitate a real insect with precision. Most of the time this pattern imitates a single stage and species of insect. Examples include: Black Beauty, and Thorax PMD.
Impressionistic Pattern: Are fly patterns that imitate a smaller number of insects or stages with good accuracy. However, they don't sacrifice versatility. These patterns are most effective in fast moving water where trout only have seconds to decide on whether to take the fly or not. They are naturally colored to known insects in the river with fairly defined profiles. Examples include: CDC Caddis Emerger and Euro Rubberleg Copper John.
Match the Hatch: The attempt by the angler to select the fly that most closely mimics the food fish are feeding on. When presented with a hatch it can be both good and bad. If you can match the hatch you will likely pull out more fish. If not, you will have a very hard time hooking anything as fish become very selective during a hatch and only eat what is hatching at the time.
Nymph: A subsurface fly that imitates the early stages of a fly’s life cycle. Nymphs can imitate Midges, Caddis, Mayflies and Stoneflies.
Search Pattern: Are fly patterns that imitate as many bugs as possible and are flexible to location and timing. Examples include: Beadhead Hares Ear nymphs and Beadhead Neverbugs.
Streamer: A subsurface fly that imitates large underwater trout food. Streamers typically imitate minnows, sculpins and leeches.
How to fish?
High Sticking: Is a method used to keep as little fly line drifting in the river as possible. This is an ideal tactic when fishing across varying current speeds and/or when nymphing. This method, however, is generally used when fishing shorter distances (i.e. less line in the water)
Mend: Is a technique used to eliminate or minimize the drag created by the fly line on the fly in an effort to present the fly in the most natural way. This is a crucial presentation tool and needs to be mastered in order to catch picky or highly pressured fish. If a fish sees a fly zipping through the water faster than the flow of the river it will laugh at you and wait for the real deal or until you can figure out how to mend your line.
Strike Indicator: Is just as it sounds. Not that I have anything against an indicator, but it’s essentially a bobber that floats on the surface of the water and informs the angler when a fish has taken the fly or in many cases when the fly snags the river bed or other undesired objects. Strike indicators are great for the all anglers, but especially those who are just getting started. Be careful, though, to keep from slapping the water in which you are fishing with the indicator as it will spook the fish.
Stripping: Refers to the action of pulling a subsurface fly through the water by pulling in small to large amount of your fly line. This technique is most commonly used when fishing with streamers to better imitate a swimming fish or leach.
Weight or Split Shot: A lead or other metal alternative that can be attached to the fly line to help sink flies. Split shot is most commonly used when nymphing or fishing sub-surface.
Barometric Pressure: Is the atmospheric pressure that is exerted by the atmosphere at a given point in time. It is also known as the “weight of air”. It can be measured in a number of ways, but for the purposes of our analyses we will present in inches of mercury (inHG). Fluctuations of barometric pressure are usually a sign of weather conditions changing. Generally, increasing pressure means better warmer weather is coming and vice versa. Barometric pressure is important as it relates to a trout’s Swim Bladder (buoyancy compensator).
Cubic feet per second (cfs): Is used to measure the flow of a river and is often referred to as “Discharge”. Simply put, this is the volume of water moving through a specific point on the river each second in time. It helps to think about it from a volume perspective. Imagine a box of water that measures one ft by one ft by one ft. Cfs is the rate of flow or discharge equal to one cubic ft of water per second or roughly 7.5 gallons per second for those metric system haters.
Pod Up: Term used to describe fish locale. When a fish “pods up” they are essentially congregating with a number of other fish in the deepest holes or runs due to shallow water or because it is a desirable feeding location. This sort of behavior can be both good and bad. Podding up results in fewer locations in which fishing will be productive. However, when you find the pod it can be a dream come true.
Redd: A spawning bed or area of bright cleaned gravel that the fish have moved into a depression or nest to deposit/fertilize eggs. There are a number of unspoken rules anglers live by. One of the more important being, you never fish for trout when they’re on a redd. Even if the trout you’ve been dreaming to reel in is nestled comfortably in that bright gravel please leave it be. You have to remember, that fish is in the process of making many fish. No one likes to be blue balled, not even trout so let him wrap it up before you harass him (probably should have lead with this, but you get the point).
Rising: Often occurs during a hatch where trout rise to the surface for flies floating on top of the water. You’ll hear the term used in the context of, “the fish are rising” or “we’ve got some risers”. In this case you’d want to match the hatch as closely as possible using those surface dry flies.
Spawn: The process in which a fish reproduces. Fishing during a spawn is typically more productive than non-spawning seasons. Why you ask? First, there are more fish! In many cases trout will travel from nearby reservoirs or lakes to spawn then retreat when finished sowing their oats. Second, and this is sort of a double whammy, the fish are more active and thus require more nutrients to maintain enough energy to spawn. Brown trout typically spawn in the fall, whereas, Rainbows, Brookies and Cutthroats spawn in the spring Egg imitations are often the most productive during this time of year as trout become so enticed by the abundance and can entirely ignore alternate food sources.