Down But Not Out: Runoff

Updated: Jan 14

Warmer weather is here, and we've all be anxiously awaiting the chance to get back out fishing flies larger that size 22, without wearing layers upon layer upon layers.

But with the warmer weather comes melting snow and stained rivers. When cabin fever strikes, you have two options: 1) hit a juicy Stillwater or 2) brave the high flows and murky conditions on your favorite river. Both sound awesome to me, but if you're adamant about heading to the river, you're going to need a game plan to find success in the chocolate milk.

Fortunately, with an open mind, you'll be striking gold while others stay home.

One fabled day, we set out to fish Cache la Poudre River west of Fort Collins, CO in late spring. We hadn't experience runoff in our neck of the woods and there were no indications of trouble. But you can research all you want and even call for info and be surprised upon arrival. Suprise!, chocolate milk. We did try to outrun runoff by heading higher in the watershed, above tributaries that may be adding sediment, but we got too antsy and pulled off the road. Making the most of the situation, we started working through a deep soft pool with big stonefly nymphs. Though the strategy wasn't terrible but things changed immediately when I grabbed an unlikely fly out of the corner of my box. The fly itself was a simple woolly bugger but its pink tail and black body turned the day around. Flashes lit the pool as rainbows appeared out of nowhere to slash at the fly. The pink tail black woolly bugger was a rare item between us, so we dug out some Polar Shrimp leftover from the fall's kokanee run, hoping the orange would excite the trout in a similar way. Bingo, we had constant action throughout the pool and found similar success as we waded into the early evening before heading out. I've trusted the combo ever since.

Here are some winning patterns to keep you in the fight.

1. Charlie's Wyo Worm

2. Tequeely (Streamers with contrasting color)

3. Pink Tail Woolly Bugger (Chocolate Milk Bugger)

4. Polar Shrimp

5. The Candy Crane

6. Pat's Rubber Legs