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Redds and Run-off   Leave a comment

Of Redds and Run-off

Every year I hear the same old crap about folks ripping spawning fish off Redds. Drives me crazy, infuriates me really.  How can you interrupt something as sacred as spawning fish?  That’s our guarantee for future fishing, and there ain’t nothing wrong with wild fish, or the fish helping out in the quest for more fish. Our respective game and fish departments can’t do it all.

Maybe some folks just don’t know what to look for, so here goes: look for water up to about thirty inches deep with areas that looked like they’ve been swept with a broom. Usually, this is a flatter section of the river, with slower moving water. Also, look for one or more fish sitting atop this swept out area. I’ve seen redds the size of a coffee table, up to the size of an auditorium. Both are equally easy to spot if you’re paying attention.

You may be thinking, “So where do I fish then?” The answer is simple, “Not on the redd, but above or below it.” Target the species not spawning on the shelves and pools below spawning fish. Hmmmmm, wonder what patterns to throw…You can certainly toss egg patterns in your nymph rigs and follow that up with the fly of the day, or the dominant hatching insect. No mystery, really, just do your best to be observant, step around the redds, and fish anywhere but on them.

Pretty dang obvious Redd. Just observe.

Run-off is bearing down on us as the water rises and goes off color. My day usually starts out nymphing two and three bug rigs under an indicator, using darker and sparser bugs. I like weighted flies (odd for me, but conditions call for it), with dark and sparse materials, to get the bugs down quickly and allow the fish to readily see them. The darker colors are easier for fish to see in off-color water. I tie my favorite flies in black, purple, red, and even throw in some true fluorescent orange and pink collars to provide for “hot-spots” and visibility.

Little dirt in the drink.

Lately, my days have been ending throwing the mini-rig (it’s in the book), with a black Chubby Chernobyl followed by a black soft hackle (DP643), and a size 18 purple Butt Crack Baetis.  Killer. The fish are moving to the edges and up into the riffles (not redds) to consume baetis swimmers and emergers, and the occasional skwala stones and migdes. You’ve all heard me preach about carrying two rigged rods, well this time of year is perfect for it.  So, mornings I work bottom up, afternoons, top down.

Don’t hesitate to rip streamers as the water’s rising, that can be as productive as it is fun. I like to run tandem rigs with a white or lightly colored streamer up front, followed by a Slumpbuster or similar 20# below on 2 or 3 X tippet.  I like to tie a loop knot to the trailing streamer to allow for a bit more movement. Typically, I’ll run a five to six foot tapered leader down to 2 or 3X to my first streamer, tie off the bend with the same to my terminal meat. If you’re not moving fish, you’re probably above their level, so employ more weight, casting angles, or mending techniques to get those streamers deeper. Vary your retrieves, strip set, and hang on.

Black soft-hackles during run-off

As we get into full-blown chaos with run-off, focus on the banks, edges, eddy’s, and sleeper seams out from the banks.  Just be damn careful stepping into crazy water. Dress appropriately, use a wading staff, take a friend, and show discretion and common sense. It’s not worth dying for.

A few nymphs to consider for run-off:

Black Pat’s Rubberlegs

Black Leeches

Cranefly Larva

Black Soft-Hackles (#16-18)

Purple Butt Crack Baetis (#18)

Purple, Pink or Red San Juan Worm

Various Egg patterns

Purple Butt Crack Baetis

 

Fear No Water…except during run-off