Yesterday morning I was sitting at home and took a look outside and saw the clears sky knowing that temps will be rising and thus fish activity. The thought of wasting a day is not really an option with decent weather, currently with cooler than usual temps compared to last year we are having a late spring and with the majority of our snow leaving in the last two weeks I have been hesitant to travel to see the streams (from future experiences of fishing in pure mud). But anyway I thought I would give a closer stream a chance and do a little recon on stream levels and find some new water.
(Keep in mind this is how I think)
Arriving at Spring Creek in Orchard, I was pleasantly surprised looking over the bridge to see the stream bed which means its “fishable”. Taking a quick assessment of the stream it was apparent that water levels earlier in the week were about 3-4 feet higher than now and currently has 1- 1 1/2 ft of water visibility with a decent brownish tint to it when deeper, which is to be expected.
In this situation my tactic was very simple, first locate a fish and second determine feeding habits by using a very visible streamer but not over sized. A good fly choice would be size #12-8’s Bunny leechs, Woolly Buggers, or Sculpins Patterns, along with keeping them one shade darker than the stream tint allowing the fly to be tracked. By fishing one pool and moving a fish or two and were not aggressively taking streamers, it was easy to tell that fish have not moved in to typical feeding lanes and are still in there high water refuge spots which would be Deep/Slow moving pools, Eddies and Back water. This little trick will save you a lot of valuable time on the water.
I quickly switched over to a nymph rig with the same idea in mind, a very visible fly, one shade darker than the tint of the water (black). A beadhead (added flash) or even a hot beadhead in colors pink or orange (these offer an added trigger reaction to eggs dropped by spawners) is a must have for spring time fishing. Also I bumped up one fly size to a #14 just to keep the fly visible and typically this is the only time of year you would need to ( in Iowa a #14 nymph in most spring creeks is fairly large and will put big fish down during clearer water situations).
This rig with or without a split shot depending on pool depth, an indicator, and keeping the fly just off the bottom not bouncing, was very productive in those slack water spots and deeper pools. At the end of the day I was able to catch the Driftless Slam and a dozen fish in a couple hours of fishing. Also little added twitch to the fly here or there when the fly would stall out was another key factor in the days success. So go to your local stream in the dirty water season and try some of these steps to figure it out in a faster manner!