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I want to give you a couple quick tips for fishing fast, rising water. We’ve all seen this on our local lakes and rivers, especially in the springtime when we get those heavy spring rains--the water is on the rise. I’m talking about a quick rise, two to three feet overnight in some places.
First thing: follow the water. The fish are going to gravitate to that new, freshly flooded bank. It could be around shallow vegetation, or yard grass, or parking lots.
If it starts flooding really flat forest areas, if you’ve got trees, always try to look for areas where you can access the bank. If the trees are flooded 30 feet off the bank, you can’t get to the fish. So look for those areas where you can still access the bank, and follow that rising water.
Another thing I recommend is to cover a lot of water. Get to those areas where you can get to the bank and cover a lot of water.
I have three setups and three key baits I like to use in fast rising water situations. Sometimes I’ll slow down, but in general I like to use reaction baits.
The first setup I like is a spinnerbait. When you get fast rising water, especially in the springtime, typically it comes with some color to it. A spinnerbait is a great weapon to cover a lot of water and relocate where those fish repositioned. I rig it on a Lew’s 7’3” medium heavy Custom Pro rod, and the 7.1:1 Pro Ti reel. I like to throw 15-to-17-pound fluorocarbon on a spinnerbait setup.
The second setup is a good old squarebill. Chartreuses and blacks, reds, things like that perform well in stained water. Again, I pair this with the Custom Pro rod and the Pro Ti reel. I throw the squarebill on 15-to-17-pound line.
Last but not least is the old vibrating jig. White or green pumpkin in the springtime—I keep it pretty simple. You can cover a lot of water. I throw this bait on braid. If you’re dealing with a lot of shallow vegetation, I like the braid because I can snap it loose a little bit easier. The setup for this is the Lew’s HyperMag reel in the 8.3:1 gear ratio, so I can pick up that slack a lot quicker when I’m snapping it through that vegetation. If I’m dealing with hard cover, such as rocky banks or trees and bushes, I will go towards 15-to-17-pound fluorocarbon.
To recap: follow the water, find places you can access the bank, cover a lot of water, and throw moving baits. Once you find some fish with those reaction-style baits, you might want to slow down in some of those areas, especially if there’s a bunch of newly flooded brush. Pick up a jig or a Texas-rigged creature bait.
Read more about Todd Castledine's jig modifications.