Wednesday, April 1, 2009
For many people across the country fishing is a year-round event from the heat of the summer to the frigged cold temperatures in the winter. We seek to find fishable water with fairly consistent flows and water temperatures that support the food base and habitat necessary to support our finned friends. Tailwaters provide us that opportunity
For those who may be unaware, a tailwater fishery is the work of our own hands. It often is a river where a dam is placed in order to form a reservoir and regulate water distribution to cities and for agricultural means. The dam then releases cold clear water from its base creating electricity as it runs through the generators. From there the river is classified as a tailwater. The water is consistently cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter because it is water from the bottom on the reservoir.
This scenario is a near perfect environment for trout as oxygen content in the water is high and bug life, which represents the major food source, abounds. However, do not be fooled into thinking you have the perfect situation for catching trout for the rest of your days.
Tailwaters are no secret and the fish inhabiting them are often the most difficult fish in the country to entice into taking a fly. With the low water temperature being lower closer to the dam structures, midges represent the highest percentage of aquatic insect in those areas and to mimic them with your fly requires a very small fly and light tippet attached to the fly. Sizes 20 and smaller are preferred along with 6X tippet. Successfully landing a fish on a hook no longer than your smallest fingernail and line that looks like a spider web is easier said than done. Also, most of the fish there are known for growing larger than average on the consistent diet and smart with the constant barrage of fishing pressure. You will many times see huge crowds of anglers flock to tailwaters for the reasons listed.
Tailwaters serve as an amazing resource to anglers but come with a price. After the crowds, weary fish, small flies and light tackle, anglers must bring patience with them. I have personally been able to hone my fishing skills and test my patience with the help of our nations greatest tailwaters. If this all sounds attractive to you head out to your local fly shop and ask about the tailwaters found in your state. Your next lunker may be swimming in one right now.