Words: Alyssa Adcock
Photos: Ryan Forbus
They say that April showers bring May flowers - well - June thunderstorms bring aggressive trout eats.
Summer storms act as a catalyst, supercharging the river ecosystem with fresh water, oxygen, nutrients, and most important, camouflage. High water events are like a giant ON switch for river residents; triggering a domino effect where the river comes alive with aquatic insects, fish adapt a more predatory feeding behavior, and small riparian zone animals and birds move along the banks feeding, traveling.
This special formula of variables creates ideal streamer fishing scenarios - the one anglers dream about. The type of dreams where the biggest and baddest of the river predators forgo their careful selection of mayflies for a higher protein meal.
Our crew had been watching the storm cell for a few days, hoping for a window that would lead to opportunity. We saw a gap, less than 24 hours, where the high and muddy water would have a chance to settle. Pulling into the boat ramp at 6:30 am the next morning, we were met with higher than normal low water flows. There was a considerable tinge of murky green color in every flat and riffle, and warm temperatures were backed by enough cloud cover to create an ideal low light start.
We pulled every big rod we had from the two River Quivers along with multiple XL MFC fly boxes filled with hand-tied patterns; deceivers, dungeons, shad, game changers, and bucktail- all carefully honed by the anglers who’d spent innumerable hours field testing. With sinking lines ranging from 2 - 6 ips, our goal was to cover every portion of the water column, methodically working through each trough, back eddy, and rootball until we found the right ratio of stripping tempo to depth to fly selection.
Fishing the river is like a visceral dance, or a calculated fist fight – it demands a sequence of steps, in the right order with impeccable timing, to divulge what lies in its depths. And it's not necessarily determined by the skill of the angler or how badly they want to catch a large trout. It is often those who submit to the willpower of the river and give up their sense of control and domination, that are able to tap into the deeper pull of what is occurring beneath the surface…