I can’t count the number of times I drove up to the Pine River only to find it so flooded that it was impossible to fish. But here’s the thing – I had to try. When a rain starts the trout slam the buffet and that means any lure tossed into the water. It can last for a day, but if it’s a downpour then it can be a matter of hours before the river is carrying so much mud it seems like Nestles has a chocolate milk factory upstream. When the stream muddies up – the fish are still active but they are at the bottom of the stream and your lure is coasting past them like it’s in an alternate reality.
Stepping into a muddy, flooded river qualifies as entering an alternate reality. You can count on the stream being twice as deep as you expect, plus six inches. If you survive getting in, triangulate your position before taking a further step so when you trip over the submerged bottom log you will have some idea of where you might get back out. Experienced anglers have a special way to enter flooded rivers that reminds me of a scene from Romancing the Stone and a long muddy slide, though the chances of landing on Kathleen Turner seems pretty remote.
Back to the River. OK, you made it in, now what? Since it is almost impossible for the trout to see your lure, your best bet is to upsize. If you normally throw a two hook minnow bait, grab a #13 three-treble silver or gold minnow. Casting will not be pretty. Lob the lure like it has cooties and try to pinch the line before it reaches its destination. This will straighten out the lure before it enters the stream which is the best advice in this entire post. If a three hook lure enters the water at an odd angle, it will most likely catch the fishing line and retrieve sideways or backwards, which doesn’t catch a lot of trout.
Don’t have a #13 dredger? Try the biggest spinner in your tote. Ideally – fat blades with lots of flash. I like a gold color in muddy water, silver if the stream is more stained than muddy. There is a good chance you will lose the lure but you need to weigh that against catching a big trout, which is very possible. The big fish are not timid if they think they are invisible. Here is a second good tip. Work the banks since the water is shallower at the edge. This bumps your chance of a trout seeing the lure. That said; cast everywhere because a stream bottom will have some shallow spots even mid-stream. Also, don’t be surprised if a trout takes your lure right at the rod tip. That’s when it gets fun.