Low and behold the Bulkley River has been blessed by the grace of God a low water year. How does that translate to fishing you ask? When you figure out where they are hiding it is incredible. Fishing low water has usually been pure joy for our guide team. To see runs that we haven’t been able to fish since 2008 has been exciting, exhilarating, and very productive.
Fishing in low water is challenging but with the proper mindset you can be very successful. Fly selection is key as it is time to put away the giant squirrel tail looking patterns and pick up the low profile, subtle colored attractors on light sinking tips or grease lines.
With higher than normal water temps the fish are still holding in fast, shallow lies and can be brought to hand with short, tight swings in the heads of runs. The fish holding in the middle of the runs are often holding in deeper slot type water that can be accessed with long distance casts. When the water temps are this warm the fish don’t quite stack up in tailouts as much as they normally would, however they are still worth fishing.
The fish will be much spookier than normal and a lot of times the fish you spot from your boat won’t be too keen to bite. You need to search out fish that are holding in more aggressive lies. The faster the water a fish will hold in the more aggressive he will be towards a fly. Look to fish shadowed water late in the day when the sun is at its highest point. With the proper mindset you can find incredible fishing on the Bulkley no matter how low it gets.
Each day our guides are spread out over 100 miles of river and each day one of those sections will produce an exceptional day. It doesn’t matter if the water is low, or if its 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, somewhere on the river the fish are biting. When guiding in these difficult conditions it is important to continually try different types of water to search out fish that will be more apt to bite. Mid river slots, boulders, and bars are a classic example of this. Even in the worst possible conditions fish that lie in this type of water seem to be be more aggressive to a swung fly.
As the water drops you will find fish stop holding in the water you think they will be in. They slowly push over to the opposite sides of run, or on cut banks. They creep up extra high into the heads, and slink back extra deep into tails. Behavior changes as water drops and we need to adapt our strategies to continue to be successful day in and day out on the river.