Fishing at Different River Levels

HOW TO FISH THE WEST BRANCH AT VARIOUS FLOW RATES

(CFS / Cubic Feet per Second)

200 cfs – When the river drops below 200 cfs, floating is not possible and wading is easy. Fish the areas of moving water as the slow pools can get difficult. The lower stretches can get warm on sunny days.

200-400 cfs – This is a nice level as wading is easy and there is enough flow to keep the river moving. Floating can mean a lot of dragging too. Look for fish in the tails of riffs and in the deeper stretches of pools. Lower stretches can warm up on hot, sunny, summer days.

400-700 cfs – Great wading and floating along the entire river. The whole river stays cool and usually fishes nicely. Look for active fish throughout the river system.

700-1000 cfs – This level is the best of both worlds. There is plenty of water to float and you can wade the river nearly everywhere. At this level look for fish out of the main current.

1000-1500 cfs – At this level floating comes into its own. Wading is still possible in some areas, but floating is easy and gives you the ability to reach all the working fish. You will start to find fish along the banks at this level. The fish will look for slower water in which to position themselves.

1500-2500 cfs  – The river really changes character at this level. Wading is really not possible, but floating the river can yield really nice fishing. Fish can be caught on streamers and you need to find surface feeding fish along the banks and back eddies. At this level big browns can be active during the day and will take streamers.

2500+ cfs – At this level floating is possible and fishing can be good. Wading is not possible and is dangerous. Streamers cast to the banks will take fish. Dry fly action is limited.