It's that time of year. The rivers are rising, turning brown and pushing snow melt through the system. Many anglers will sit back and wait for the conditions to improve but high water doesn't mean there's a lack of opportunity. Fish are concentrated in specific areas, bugs are dislodged and big fish are displaced from their normal hiding places.
Fish the Edges
The main channel pushes high volumes of water and fish are pushed to the edges. Stand back off the bank to avoid spooking these fish. They are often found within a few feet of the bank. Look for areas where the water spreads out softly. Meadow sections with grassy edges are very productive in high water. Any structure that breaks current near the bank is a good focal point.
Look for Channels
Back channels are not as fast and fish migrate out of the main channel to seek refuge in these areas. Many channels meander and have undercut banks that provide shelter. Work the channels with streamers and nymphs. Prospecting with big dries is also fun and productive. Some very narrow braids will maintain ample depth and hold some surprisingly large fish. Playing a nice fish in narrow channels is challenging and fun.
Salmonfly and golden stonefly nymphs begin inching closer to the shore and fishing the big bugs is a good move. Worms are also dislodged from the soil and are a nice food source. Fish a big rubber legs nymph and san juan worm combination to connect. Also consider working the edges with large streamers. Cast upriver and retrieve downstream or cast across and swing into the banks.