Man Fly Fishing After Flooding


When the rivers get a good flushing out from high-water or flooding, some species can be a little skittish and reluctant to take flies in the same way they did before the flood. Floods churn up heaps of mud, altering the conditions and underwater visibility. To make it even more difficult, the fish have often gorged on insects and debris that has been pulled into the water, leaving them full and discerning about what bait they will take. Flooding completely changes the nature of the game and fishos have to respond accordingly to keep that rod bending.


To start, in discoloured water you don’t need to cast into the structures quite as much. With less visibility in the water, the fish are less spooked and will venture away from structures and into areas that would leave them vulnerable if the water was clear. Try the shallows in muddy water where fish may be sitting boldly out in the open just out of sight.

In water that is still moving swiftly, look for eddies (the area of still water behind an object). Fish often gather here to prevent being swept up in the current and moved to an unfamiliar location. You can identify these areas with stagnant foam, or debris which isn’t being washed away down the river.


The grit and sediment left in the water after a flood can irritate the gills of many species, including Trout. As a result, you might find them sitting in greener areas where the long grass can help filter out the sediment before it reaches their gills. They are also perfect hunting grounds. Nymphs and other insects likely got swept up in the flood and are now caught in the grass waiting to be picked off by a passing fish.


With so many nymphs and smaller, juvenile prey on offer, your fly should emulate the smaller species. Try 18s or 20s or something similar.


If you are accustomed to lure fishing, in muddy water it might be worth dabbling with a spinnerbait or crankbait lure. I am always surprised how well these lures work in low visibility. I can assume it is because underwater visibility is so poor and many species are using vibrations to hunt their prey. Using a lure which provides some stimulation in the water has a higher chance of attracting species on the prowl.


The abundance of twigs, branches and general debris in the water means that a lot of fish will be inquisitively nibbling but ejecting once something is discovered not to be edible. This could mean they are dropping your fly almost instantly. Be aware of your slack line and set as quickly as possible to stop them getting away.

Post-flood fishing is certainly a different kettle of fish (excuse the pun) but it pays to persist. You can catch fish in these conditions, in some places I have seen Trout fish far more enthusiastically after a flood in dirty conditions. Just be aware of the changes and modify your technique to fit the conditions.


Have you got any tips to add to this article? Do you have any experience in fishing after a flood? Share your comments with the OD community in the comments section below.

Peter Hollingsworth
Peter Hollingsworth

Peter has been fishing all around Australia since he was a boy. He loves camping, fishing and kayak fishing.