High water can be epic ... I have mentioned it a few times in my past blogs. It is not a guarantee that you will figure out where the fish are, what they are feeding on or that the flows will work in your favor. But, the times that it works out can be fantastic!
Such was two days of fishing with friends of the family. My Dad's good friends, the Askins, were on their way out to Colorado for a long weekend and wanted to hit the river up for a few days. I don't think they'll mind me saying that they are not the most experienced anglers, but we always have a great time on the river.
I thought it would be fun to take them to 11 Mile Canyon to start things off. The beauty alone of that area is wonderful, and the experience of seeing the fish in such clear water is always enjoyable. It didn't take long on the water for me to realize that the flows were high and the fishing a little too difficult to consistently hook up, not to mention those fish fight hard and have a knack for spitting the hook.
So, on Saturday around 1 PM I took them to the Dream Stream for the afternoon. Our first impression of the river was "milk chocolate". I had checked the flows and they had peaked earlier, so I knew the water was coming down slowly and should get slightly more clear as the day went on. I decided we should give it a go, and we went straight to some deeper "holes" that I knew would provide fish with a chance to get out of the blazing current.
We rigged up with a large indicator set at the depth I knew (one thing about fishing off color water is it really helps to know the river you're fishing, otherwise you have to guess at depth) and tied on a #10 Tungsten Prince Nymph followed with a Blacktail Baetis. It wasn't long before the indicator dropped and much to my surprise it was a healthy, 14" rainbow. Our day ended with a lot of hook-ups and a few landed fish in the type of water that sends most fisherman home.
Then Sunday came ... the flows were down about 50 CFS, which made for about 18" of visibility and a lovely greenish-brown color. We started fishing the same rig, but it was clear after 30 minutes that there was no need for the trailing baetis. Fish were crushing the Prince Nymph! You couldn't ask for better conditions for intermediate fisherman. The drifts were pretty easy, and the fish took the fly like it was their last meal. Hook sets were not a problem since the fish wasn't letting go of the fly.
We had a fantastic time, and in the afternoon, as the water clarity improved, I even got to put them on a 24" Cutt that took the fly on the first drift! It was insane!!!! Though, that monster fish proved to have too much power and left us thinking of the "one that got away".