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  1. #1

    Default Help me understand

    When looking at different fishing locations and reseaching current conditions I see a lot of information on flow data and water levels. How does that information relate to the fishability of a body of water?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Help me understand

    I may be alone, but I don't really look at the specific flow numbers as a main determination on how to fish a body of water. I use it more as a guide to help estimate the safety of wading it.

    Each river is different and each will have a different set of standards. Let's look at two rivers by me

    River A: average flows of 400-600cfs. I know this to be a safe level to wade and a very manageable current. If it shoots above 1200, wading is limited to flooded areas and slack water pockets close to shore. Above that - I'm staying home or fishing a different body of water.

    In addition, I can get an idea of how clear or muddy the water will be before I leave the house. If it's flowing at 500cfs, chances are that I will have about a foot or two of visibility on this particular river. If its flowing at 800 or 900, I know that the water will be pretty muddy. Above that, visibility is practically zero.

    River B: Average flows of about 150-250cfs. That is my clear water flow and safe wading level. Above that it all changes.

    The point is that you have to look at each river ona case by case basis. Average flow is your benchmark and you need to know the river to know what that benchmark is.

    It's only once I am at the river that I can tell where to fish, how to fish it, and what to use.
    Less likey, more green dots

  3. #3

    Default Re: Help me understand

    Nice. Thank you for the explaination. I see a lot of flow data, but didn't understand how it related to the fishabikity of a body of water.
    i just returned from Montana and the guide said that most of the water was "still very big". I had to ask what that meant because Ii didnt understand. it's all coming together now. Thanks again


  4. #4

    Default Re: Help me understand

    No problem.

    When he said it's very big..that means it's bigger than normally. So if it normally flows at 800cfs, it might be pushing at 1500 which would be very big for that particular body of water
    Less likey, more green dots

  5. #5

    Default Re: Help me understand

    I started using those numbers a long time ago when duck hunting. I noted the numbers when it was safe and went from there. Now that I am fly fishing I just use the same approach. When I fish a river and the conditions are good I note the readings. I have a real good idea what I will rind when I get there. My son and I started fishing the DuPage river. We had a couple of good days and I came home and noted the flow and level readings. I know that at 100-230 cfs it is safe and productive. At 400 cfs it is rough wading and there are big balls of weeds (like huge and heavy ) floating down the river. It is currently at 700 cfs, I am at home on the computer. The database is searchable by date so you can go find the date you were there when the conditions were to your liking.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Buffalo/SRQ FL/Götebörg, Sweden
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    Default Re: Help me understand

    Safety is certainly a key issue, but for many of the waters I fish, the flow gauges are also important for determining how waters will be fished (or even attempted at all). For steelhead, a spike in flow-rates may signal a banner day with a new influx of fish, while high water levels on the gauges can also mean its time to fish streamers. Certainly a look at the water itself is necessary in this case, but the gauges can help you decide if the long drive is worth it or if you're going to be "washed out".
    - A.J.

    Working out a way to convince my university to allow me to hold my TA office hours on the nearby creek...

  7. #7

    Default Re: Help me understand

    Quote Originally Posted by enjaku View Post
    When looking at different fishing locations and reseaching current conditions I see a lot of information on flow data and water levels. How does that information relate to the fishability of a body of water?
    This is a great question and actually has A LOT!!!! to do with how a body of water will fish. The first thing you should notice when you look at a flow chart is how high or how fast is the water flowing currently in comparison to the historical average. If you take a look at a flow chart it will have triangles below the current flow levels that will tell you what the median flow has been for the past 10 years. If the current flow is above the the 10-year median it is obvious that the flow level is higher then normal. This doesn't mean it is un-fishable it just means you need to change your tactics.

    If you think about it logical if the flows have been normal for the past few months and all of a sudden they start letting water out to raise the flow then it is safe to assume that the fish are not used to that kind of flow and tend to get spooky and find cover. The insect respond the same way, they are not used to the flow and wont be as inclined to swim to the surface and hatch. Once the levels have remained consistent for a few days however they become fairly acclimated and return to normal feeding and hatching behavior.

    However when the flows are higher then normal you want to go deep. The fish will hide under the bank and brush so running a streamer or a deep nymph will bring up some decent fish. The only issue I have with higher flows is wading which is why it is important to know the body of water and find out at what levels it is safe or not safe to wade.

    Hope this helps.

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