I been taking a few less experienced folks fly fishing lately. I love getting out on the water, but I also loving sharing what experience I have. I was in the same boat once – I knew nothing about catching trout, and several people have given me their brain dump over the years. I continue to learn from others, and will continue to pass techniques and prime spots on whenever I can.
In that regard, I received a kind “thank you” note from someone I took out the other day. They were no newbie, but had taken a bit of a sabbatical from fly and rod. We had a good day. They’ve since decided they’re going to do a bit more fishing, and made a few inquiries. Here are the answers (not an all inclusive how-to-catch-’em dissertation)…
River flows for the US as a whole are tracked by the USGS, and some states have additional markers of their own. State-by-state links to gauges can be found here, and if you’re in Colorado the Division of Water Resources publishes additional data of interest here.
What’s good and not good regarding river flow is a matter of experience, and it’s all relative. For example, the San Juan River below Navajo Dam gets pretty crowded while running 750 cfs, but I’d be hard pressed to wade the Blue River below Green Mountain Reservoir at that level (in fact, I do not wade it above 350 cfs). Meanwhile, Maryland’s Gunpowder River would be completely blown out at 500 cfs, and a number of people would avoid Cheesman Canyon at that level too. But I’ve had good luck at Cheesman at even 540 cfs, because I don’t mind casting three tandem nymphs accompanied by five No. 6 bead weights…into eight foot deep pools.
The rule here is communication. Talk to fellow anglers, and talk to folks in fly shops (particularly if you’re new to an area). Record your experiences at different water levels until you find out what suits you. One man or woman’s knee deep heaven can be another’s drift boat horror, and visa versa.
Some Additional Tidbits
I spent a lot of time cutting my teeth doing ridiculous stuff like tying knots until I was blind, casting in my front yard while people passed by snickering, and dropping full boxes of flies in the river. Much was learned which makes for smooth goings on the water now.
A Final Recommendation Loaded With Grand Wisdom
If you are strolling along the river and see a porcupine the size of a medicine ball hiding in the bushes, take a quick picture of him and then keep moving…