Being an angler and seeing that it is in fact runoff time here in Colorado, it seemed appropriate that I put the new Nite Ize RunOff© Waterproof Bags to the test. They have been getting a lot of attention after all (see here and here).
For those of you unfamiliar with runoff season, it’s the term associated with springtime in mountain states when the seasonal snow melts up high and this “runoff” causes rivers and creeks to rise with muddy water. It’s not generally considered a great time of year for fly fishing (who doesn’t prefer stalking trout in crystal-clear, calm streams on warm days?) but I find it makes me more motivated to try new spots and to be more strategic in my planning. It’s all about timing.
So, my husband Drew and I packed up our new set of RunOff bags and made some plans. The bags hit the road with us on our springtime trips to visit the San Miguel River, the Uncompahgre River, the Green River through the Flaming Gorge, the Upper Colorado River, and to the good ole Evert Pierson Kids’ Fishing Pond in Boulder. I was stoked to see that these are truly badass waterproof bags that stood up to the tests of float fishing, wade fishing, toddler snack-tantrums, and all the variable weather that springtime in the Rockies has to offer. The super-tough toothless zipper is bomber and the bags are totally impenetrable – even to the raging rivers of runoff season. They lived up to their name perfectly.
After our memorable spring on the water, here are the best tips I can give you for fishing during runoff time – and then forget it all and let’s get excited for summer fishing!
1. Fish Tailwaters
Tailwaters are sections of rivers below dams. The dams help control the influx of runoff and maintain lower flows while typically also leading to better clarity. Float fishing the Green River below the Flaming Gorge Dam was near perfect conditions for catching browns from the boat all day long.
2. Fish mornings
The early bird really does get the worm, or the fish in this case. For the first few weeks of runoff season the nights are still freezing and the actual snow melt doesn’t happen until later in the day, so mornings on the river are often still clear. As we typically had two toddlers fishing with us, the early morning option wasn’t a problem. On closing day at Telluride Ski Resort with skiers stopping by to watch, we spent a nice cool morning fishing dry flies to little rainbows on the San Miguel, but by 10 or 11 a.m. the sun was warm overhead, and the river had turned to chocolate milk without a fish rising in sight.
3. Be flexible and watch for temperature swings
Runoff season isn’t finite, it can start and stop with the weather. We “lucked out” with snow storms in the mountains just before memorial weekend and saw that with the colder temps, flows had dropped on the Upper Colorado River for the weekend. We called up our good friends and got out for an epic day of float fishing. This time of year, fishing streamers can be really productive and always fun, so that’s just what we did.
4. Hit the local lakes and ponds
If you’re at a low elevation, your lakes and ponds will be largely unaffected by runoff. So, take a turn at fly fishing for bass, pike, or carp (yes, carp – you don’t need to be ashamed). Or just rig up some kid rods and make it a fun family day. Never trust the weather though – our fishing day could have been ruined by this deluge, but fortunately we had the snacks packed in the RunOff 3-1-1 Pouch, so the day was saved!
I’d love to hear your best tips for runoff season in the comment section below.