High Water Techniques

With a big storm about to hit the West Coast again this week, high water techniques are needed. Randy Wells of Oregon Fishing Adventure and Fish Seward Alaska Inc. spends his winters guiding anglers on Southern Oregon and Nor-Cal rivers such as the Chetco River in Oregon and the Smith River in Northern California. Randy says that this fall and winter have been wet and kept the rivers he fishes high for most of his steelhead season. Randy has a tip for those anglers who think the best steelhead fishing is when the water is steelhead green, Randy says, it’s not. When the rivers have that perfect color anglers flock to the water, as they should, but with high water most anglers stay home, and this leaves the rivers full of fish with little pressure. When the water is high steelhead move to 2-4ft of water to try and keep the dirt and sand out of their gills, but they still will hit the right presentation. For example, Randy ties up a Spin-N-Glo with a bead and a number 2 hook, two hooks if your river allows with a 20lb 24in leader attached to a barrel swivel followed up with a tear drop sinker on a slider, this is the exact set up most anglers use while back bouncing for kings.

Randy than puts his boat right on the shoreline which is in the willows where he’s fishing, he will than cast downstream and plunk the Spin-N-Glo with a small cluster of eggs or he will back bounce the same setup down the willow line if he can. The steelhead are running up river right on the shoreline and will smack this set up. Finally, most will ask “what part of the river do I fish?” Randy says to find a “choke point” or a bend in the river where but the point is to put that Spin-N-Glo in the travel lane and you will hook up. You may feel like you are fishing in inches of water, but that’s where the fish are. Check out this great Smith River hatchery fish caught on the last high water while fishing this exact setup.