What if I told you 80% of your fish are caught from home? Many things can influence how much water a river gets every season. The rising river flow will impact the river’s clarity, the water levels and even temperature. Those factors can most certainly affect your fishing success, what tactics you use and where the fish will be. A quick rain shower or rain storms, snowmelt, openings of the dams, and even tributary activity will impact the current river conditions.
Here in Michigan, the past few winters were the worst in 130 years. Because of the abnormally cold water temperatures and the increased flows some rivers and creeks saw very few fish, while other rivers had better runs than years past. Some rivers had runs that lasted well into June. Remember folks, these fish do not have to run up a river. Just because you fished that river last year at that time doesn’t mean it will fish this time. Only the right conditions will bring you a good steelhead run. Hence why you need all the right info to help you predict where to fish and when they will be there.
Don’t even think of heading out until you have done all your homework. At minimum, get the river-level information. In the springtime, conditions can change overnight and blow everything out very quickly. By knowing what rivers are in shape to fish can save you a lot of grief and money.
There are many websites, like USGS and RiverBoss, and they are always updated. Take advantage of today’s technology and the use of your smartphone. I personally love to use the Fishhead App. It’s the best $7.00 you will ever spend. Your favorite rivers can be programmed and everything is at my fingertips at a moment’s notice including the weather by the hour and moon phase.
By knowing the flows and the water temperature through a system, you can predict how you fish and where. By checking NOAA’s National Weather Service and knowing the water temps in the Great Lakes you can actually predict when your favorite river will get a run of fish. Every river has its own run clock. If the river temps are warmer than the big lake temperatures and you have the right winds along with increased flows, it means the fish are coming. Depending on when those events took place that will determine where the fish will be either high or low within the system.
Want to fish a new river? Never been there? No worries now that you know when the fish are coming. Your next search should be on google maps. Locate the darker river water on your computer or right from your phone. Look for any dark holes, steep gradient areas, bends, downed trees, boat launches or even bridges. Wherever there is a bridge, the fish will be there. Take advantage of technology and plan your trip from home. By knowing what’s going on before you even leave your house, that will put you ahead of the game.
Bottom line – you need a game plan before you even leave the house and remember: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”