Trout fishing and spring creeks seem to be a match made in heaven. Many of the most iconic trout fisheries are spring-fed, from the traditional chalk Streams in the English countryside to the picturesque streams flowing through Yellowstone spring creeks can be found almost anywhere in the world.
While spring creeks and trout fishing might be ubiquitous, they are not exactly easy to fish. They can actually be very challenging. This challenge, might be part of the reason why they are so rewarding to fish. So keep reading, to learn 10 tips on trout fishing in spring creeks.
1) Spring creeks flow cold in summer
I love fishing for trout in spring creeks, their flow is usually very consistent. So is the water temperatures. Even on the hottest of summer days spring creeks often remain cool enough for trout to feed. It should come as no surprise that trout really thrive in cold, stable streams and spring creeks are a perfect match.
So in the middle of summer when the temperatures are high, the fishing becomes slow free flowing rivers due to high water temperatures. Spring Creeks can still provide quality fishing.
2) Spring creeks are ‘warm’ in winter
In the summer, spring creeks are cold.. but the opposite is usually true in the winter and spring. Especially when there is a lot of snowmelt. A spring creek can be several degrees warmer than nearby thawing rivers.
What does that mean? Even in cold winter weather, the trout are likely to be more active in Spring Creeks. We all know trout suffer when water gets too warm, what is less well known is that trout feed less when the water gets too cold. That means, on cold days trout living in spring creeks can be easier to catch.
3) Spring creeks are deceptively deep
The crystal clear water in spring creeks can make spotting trout easier, it also makes it difficult to judge the depth.
Pools that are several yards deep, might be halfway. Likewise, trout which look like they should be fairly close to the surface could be feeding several feet further down. This makes judging the correct depth to fish nymphs, and to a lesser degree streamers more difficult.
If a trout is ignoring all of your nymphs. There is a chance that you are fishing them too high in the water column. I do not know any tricks to figure out the water depths, but it does become easier with experience.
4) Limit false casts
Limiting the number of false cast is probably a good idea in all forms of fishing, but it is of paramount importance when fishing spring creeks. That crystal clear water, which allows us to spot trout, means it is equally easy for trout to spot us.
So limit the number of false casts to reduce the chance of line flash spooking the trout. Short, precise casting is often the most effective. The more of the stream your line covers the greater the chance it would spook an otherwise unseen fish.
5) Never fish too fast
Do not fish too quickly, I have walked past too many good size trout because I was in a hurry and just glanced over the water. Other times, I will spot one fish, and while lining it up and planning my cast several more will come into my vision. The biggest trout is rarely the first one I see.
Trout have excellent camouflage, so they can remain difficult to see even in clear conditions. In cloudy conditions, despite the clear water I still struggle to sight fish.
So take your time, and give every potential lay a second look. Fishing is meant to be relaxing, so no need to be in a hurry.
6) Fish a long tippet, but not too long
Common advice is to fish long thin tippets, this keeps the fly line further from the fish and allows for longer drift free presentations. This is all good in theory, but most casters, including myself, lack the skills to consistently cast such long leaders.
A well presented 12ft leader will certainly have a better drift, and is more likely to catch a fish than a 15ft leader which collapses in upon itself.
Finally, spring creeks often have riparian strips covered in vegetations. There will always be a scrub or branch perfectly positioned to tangle any backcast which gets too long. Shorter leaders are also easier to untangle and to control in the air.
7) Learn the lays
Trout in spring creeks can be difficult to fish. But if you wish them enough, it is easy to remember where certain trout like to lay and feed.
I have caught the same trout, out of the same lay several times some seasons. Trout are creatures of habit, so if you see a trout previously in a certain location chances are that same fish or a different one will take up position there again.
Learning a stream, and where the trout like to feed is one of the best ways to consistently sight and hence catch fish.
8) Bring a net
Spring creeks often flow deep, with steep weedy sides. Landing fish can be difficult, at times even reaching them at all can be a challenge.
A long handle net can make landing trout significantly easier.
9) Fish at different times of day
Trout behave and feed differently at different times of day. Every time we fish a spring creek we probably only see a fraction of the total number of trout in the stretch. The others are either resting, or feeding out of sight.
Some of the biggest trout, which inhabit spring creeks are nocturnal. Only coming out to feed at night. I have never done so myself, but I know anglers who have great success fishing streamers through spring creek pools in the early hours of the morning. I also overheard the same anglers complaining about the success spin fishermen were having with Rapalas.
Fishing during a hatch can also greatly influence the number of trout feeding. Hatches can occur any time throughout the day, but they are most common at change of light.
10) Use natural indicators when fishing spring creeks
Due to the natural clarity of the water in spring creeks, trout are well aware of their surroundings. Anything even slightly out of place can easily spook trout.
When fishing spring creeks, I like to keep my rig as simple, and non intrusive as possible. That means, if I must fish an indicator, it will be as natural and lifelike as possible. My indicator of choice is a dry fly or other terrestrial.
If I need slightly more buoyancy, then I use a yarn indicator. I tie it to be as small as possible while being buoyant enough to remain floating.