Skip to content

The Advantages of Tailwaters for Fly Fishing Trout

An Abundance of Fish

When fly fishing in a well-known river venue for trout, it can be surprising to discover how many fish are lurking nearby, waiting for the angler to leave. Trout in popular venues have become acclimated to the presence of people and have learned that if they stay hidden and stop feeding temporarily, the threat will eventually leave. However, in less-known river venues where wild trout are not accustomed to human presence, they scatter at the sight of anglers, darting away in zigzag patterns. This crucial difference in behavior is due to the tolerance developed by trout in heavily fished venues and the limited extent of their habitat.

Adaptable Trout

One of the prime examples of a heavily fished venue with limited extent are tailwaters below dams. In these areas, trout may not have anywhere to flee as the habitats are often only a mile or two long. The trout in tailwaters have learned that humans are present both upstream and downstream, and have developed a strategy of hanging tight and not feeding until the angler moves on. It is an educated fish tactic, as the trout become accustomed to the angler’s presence and resume feeding once they no longer feel threatened.

The Role of Memory in Trout Behavior

Trout possess remarkable memory capabilities and can recall both positive and negative experiences. This crucial factor plays a significant role in their behavior and response to anglers. In high-use venues, where anglers ply the waters frequently, the fish recognize and remember their presence. Over time, they learn to adapt and become less skittish, allowing anglers a better opportunity to catch them.

The Benefits of Tailwaters

In the South Park region of Colorado, where the altitude reaches 9,000 feet and offers a high-altitude basin between mountain ranges, there are multiple gold medal waters. Two of these areas are tailwater systems, where the water released from the bottom of a dam remains a consistent cool temperature and is well-oxygenated. Unlike water spilling over the top of a dam, which is susceptible to temperature variations, tailwaters provide a year-round fishable environment. This consistency allows for the continuous engagement of aquatic insects, such as mysis shrimp and scuds, which are trout’s primary diet. These crustaceans are often introduced by state biologists to tailwaters, providing super enriched nutrition and allowing the trout to grow to impressive sizes.

Persistence Pays Off

When fishing in high-use areas like tailwaters, patience is key. As the limited habitat forces trout to remain in the vicinity, anglers must out-wait them. By employing techniques such as “high-sticking,” where the rod is held high and the colored part of the line is kept off the water, anglers can present their fly to the nearby pockets of water with precision. This unorthodox approach to fly fishing allows for easier control of a dead drift and gliding over riffles, providing a better chance of enticing the trout to strike.

Faith in the Fish

Next time you venture out to a famous venue known for its fishing pressure, have faith in the trout. Remember that they are there, hanging out nearby, waiting for the opportune moment to resume feeding. Analyze your surroundings, take your time, and make a plan. With persistence and careful movements, both experienced and novice anglers can find success in tailwaters and catch the trophy trout they seek.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *