About Me

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Saint Louis, Missouri, United States
I am an attorney in my early thirties with a serious fly fishing problem. I work at a large corporate law firm where things move pretty fast. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of corporate America, I try as often as possible to get away and enjoy a quiet stream. My blog attempts to detail the adventures I have both on and off the water in "My World on the Fly."

Thursday, April 3, 2008

High Water

Well the month of March flew by. I got busy at work and was not able to keep up with my posts. I ended up fishing 3 or 4 days on the Current. All of the days offered high water streamer fishing which I absolutely love. Unfortunately, I have no big browns to speak of this time around. I’m not real sure why, but the rainbows were the only fish taking the streamers. I caught plenty of them and a few were pushing 15 inches or so, but absolutely no browns to net after 3 to 4 solid days of fishing. I am stumped.

Usually high water brings out the big browns but this month was different. Consequently, my fishing report for this post is short and boring: streamer fishing with a sink tip line--all stocker rainbows; streamer fishing with floating line--all stocker rainbows; large nymphs--all stocker rainbows; San Juan worms / eggs--all stocker rainbows; Billy L. with a spinning rod and different colored spinners--one little tiny brown and the rest rainbows. Bummer! Perhaps it has something to do with the massive amounts of rain and flooding we have had.

For those not tuned in to the weather, the Midwest is getting pounded with rain. I don't know the exact number of inches that have fallen but thinking back to the forecasts over the last month, I remember hearing 10 inches in one weather system, 4 to 5 shortly thereafter, and we are currently getting another 2 to 4 inches today and tomorrow. When the rainfall amounts sound like snowfall forecasts you know the rivers are coming up and coming up quickly.

Fishing can be dangerous in these conditions and anglers need to keep a close eye on the river levels. We had a significant amount of snow and rainfall this winter and by now the ground is completely saturated. Because there is no more room to soak up additional water, all the precipitation that falls runs off directly into the creeks and streams that feed the river. Flash flooding is a real concern. Remember, it doesn't have to be raining on you for the water to rise. It may be raining upstream or somewhere in the surrounding hills.

Also, before heading out and committing to a day of fishing, check the water levels at the USGS website. To access the Current River water level gage just below Montauk CLICK HERE. When the level gets up around 3 ft, you may want to stay home and play golf instead. (Did I really say that?) You may want to stay home and tie flies for the next weekend. Parts of the river become unwadable and fishing requires sinking lines and serious amounts of weight. Plus, the fish are often well fed when the water rises significantly because high water stirs up all sorts of bugs, worms, crayfish, etc.

Both the Current and the Meramec reached near record levels as a result of the recent rainfall in the area. The lower Meramec near Eureka and Valley Park crested at almost 38 ft (flood stage is 16 ft). It flooded major roads including Highway 141 and Interstate 44. Check out some of these amazing pictures I found on the web:

These first two show the Highway 44 and 141 interchange.

This is a shot of the river from 44 near the 270 interchange.

This is a random house in Arnold, MO near Highway 61/67.

Unbeliveable! My thoughts and prayers go out to those who sustained damage or injury during the flood.

The Current reached record levels as well. According to one river local, the river had not been that high since 1940. Someone (I think a ranger) posted some video of the flood on You Tube. If you're familiar with the Current River, specifically Montauk State Park, WATCH THE VIDEO. It’s a pretty incredible sight.

I’ve heard mixed opinions on whether flooding of this magnitude is good or bad for fishing. Some say it washes fish down stream. Others say fish hold tight to the banks and bottom out of the heavy current and manage to stay put. Perhaps the former is why I didn’t catch a single brown in 4 days. Maybe the rainbows I was catching were fresh stockers out of the park. I doubt it. I am of the latter school of thought. I think fish can handle the heavy water. Native fish out west deal with high waters every year during the snow melt and some fish, (i.e. those on the Madison near Ennis) deal with the river gorging or freezing completely solid.

If they can handle this, I’m sure they can handle a flood.

A good flood can also completely change the holes and features of the river. These last two outings were almost like fishing a new stream. Gravel bars and log jams have disappeared completely. New structure has formed in random places. There are actually places where the water is too deep to wade. I noticed piles of sand and gravel that had washed up onto the banks. With the sand and gravel out of the riverbed, I am hoping there will be more deep pockets for fish to hold once the water comes back down. I am also hoping the rain and abudnance of water we are getting now will pay dividends this summer when the water is usually very low.

I took a few pictures while fishing during these trips. Most try to show the effects of the rains and flooding. This is a shot of the road at Baptist Camp, or what it looks like now after they repaired the section torn out by the river:

Here is an example of the amount of debris that was being moved around (look in the background):

The heavy rains caused a minor mudslide below Baptist:

This run just below the park was too deep to wade. You can see how high the water got by looking at where leaves and things are stuck to the trees.

Unfortunately, I have no fish porn for you because I didn’t feel like many of the rainbows I brought to hand were worth bragging about. There is always another day. Stay posted!