The summer of 2021 for the sport of fly fishing has been an exercise in patience, planning, and perseverance. Early in the summer the chance of fires once again wreaking havoc on our wildlands caused alarm. Then lack of water in our reservoirs in turn causing many rivers to have minimal flows and warm temperatures. Add in heavy rainfall, mudslides, blown out rivers, and then greater numbers of anglers and boaters on many of our rivers and lakes in Colorado, and you need to access all the patience, planning, and perseverance you can muster up.
With these and many other factors coming into play, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts of float fishing. These are good ideas to implement and practice in order to have a fun and successful float fishing trip.
1.) Trailer maintenance
Yeah now you have a boat, and boats take some maintenance. But, what will really leave you high and dry is a seized wheel bearing on your trailer. So buy that grease gun, borrow one, or go in with a group of float fishing buddies. Depending on how much you float and how far you drive, grease those hubs in the spring and fall at the very least.
Trailer wiring is notorious for decaying and shorting out with our magnesium chloride doused roads. I recommend purchasing a basic wiring kit with some wire connectors, extra wire, wire cutter/crimper, electrical tape, and a good supply of fuses for your vehicle. The little inconvenience of trailer maintenance is a whole lot less inconvenient than that seized bearing or trooper stop.
2.) Boat Ramp Etiquette
If you don’t know, now you know. One thing that is a NO NO is gear, boats, people, and animals strewn about the boat ramp. The best etiquette is to pull your vehicle to the side, out of way, and in the queue, if there is a line to launch. Now you can get all your boat rigging, instruction, cooler loading, rod rigging all done and out of the way. If you’re still rigging and in the queue let your fellow boaters know they can launch ahead of you. (being nice on the river and launch, goes a long way). Once you are ready, everything is dialed and a spot on the ramp is open. Launch away! Always think about how to position your boat once launched and anchored, to give others ease to get their boats in the water and launched for the day.
3.) Early Bird Gets The Fish
This year with all the closures, this has definitely been a key strategy. This gets you out in front of the many other anglers, avoids busy boat ramps, and keeps you from having to navigate through the masses. Not to mention get’s your flies to the fish before all the other anglers do. And if river closures open up, fishing in the evenings is always a great option in the summer months.
4.) Anchors away
Ok, now we’re launched and on our way down the river. Rivers these days can be quite busy, so just like the put in’s and take-outs try and think about other people. Like the boat ramps, rivers have a limited amount of space for people to get down safely. Always think about dropping anchor out of the main current, be cautious of fast water, snags, and always look back upriver to make sure you are not cutting anyone off.
5.) Feel the Pressure
Just like stopping in the middle of the river, pushing on someone in the middle of a rapid or riffle can be a little rude and to be honest a bit dangerous. There will be plenty of time to pass safely with plenty of room as the river widens and slows. Do a few back rows, stall a bit, and drop in once the boat in front has cleared the riffle, rapid or technical run. No one likes an oar to the head, boat, or an impact in a dangerous section. Remember, the river has some serious power. What can look innocuous, if you add in moving water, boats, and hard objects, even the placid can be dangerous.
6.) Give 'em some space
So now you are ready to drop in after stalling at the rapid. Now give your fellow boaters some space. Sure you can still pass, but if they are fishing the right bank, make sure you pull well left. Even if it means that you won’t be able to fish the good water. Remember you are passing so, you will have plenty of good water to come. Out of principle, I will usually have my folks quit fishing as we move past. A tangled line with another boat is never fun.
7.) Opposites attract
Well maybe, but with the amount of fishing traffic and boat traffic out there, you might just check this out. There always seems to be the bank everyone is drawn to. Throw a changeup and head to the opposite bank instead of stacking up with the five other boats on the run. This is a great way to learn the little secret spots these rivers contain. This might just be a sunken boulder or an undercut bank but these fish usually don’t see many flies and they may eat yours on the ready.
8.) Give ‘em something different
If you have a busy day on the water with lots of anglers, the fish are going to see lots of flies. Probably a lot of the same flies and techniques. Changing it up again can be a great idea. Try fishing double dries tight to the banks. These fish are hard to target without using this technique. Maybe try a long dry dropper or nymph rig drifted in the middle of the river. Or maybe just flies that are completely different from what is the norm. Sometimes fishing outside the box can have great results, teaching you something new not only about fishing but the river you are floating.
9.) Reel 'em Up
With this summer being challenging in so many different ways, helping preserve our precious fishing resources has become a priority. Yeah, it’s tough to quit fishing at noon but if that is going to preserve our resources for the years to come, we better do it. What good is that new boat and five weight if there are no fish in the river?
The reason we have these regulations is that the water temperature is just too warm to have enough dissolved oxygen in it. This doesn't allow the fish to recover easily. Sure they are eating and hungry but it’s just because these higher water temperatures have kicked the fish's metabolism into high gear. So, yeah they will eat your fly, they just might not recover. As we move into late summer and fall, look for these closures to open back up and the fishing to return to some normalcy, especially if we do our part.
10.) Take-Out Time
It’s take-out time and there’s a good stack of boats lined up. If you can, stall and do some fishing while you wait. Otherwise, get in line, find a good spot out of the way without pressing the other boaters. When a ramp is moving smoothly, usually a couple of people can have trailers backed up getting boats on trailers. So make sure you are conscious of a good backup positioning of your vehicle and trailer on the ramp. Then get in and get out! Pull up and out of the way and now you can do your end-of-day breakdown and cleanup. As we talked about before, boats, gear, people, and animals should not be all over the boat ramp.
Yeah, this is the 11th! If you do all of these little tricks and tips I think you will have a successful day, summer, and forever on the water. As always, stop in, call (303-7331434), or email us for more information on river conditions at Trouts Fly Fishing’s locations in Denver and Frisco.