• Let's Talk About the Annual Instability of Holding Water

    I never know until near the end of a season if my favorite spots are still my favorite spots. We have all had that "one spot" that used to be so great but now seems to hold no interest for fish. I remember many years ago when a great flood on the Sandy River wiped out the upper end of Oxbow Park where one of my favorite fall salmon holes used to be. Gordons Creek hole was a large long slow moving hole that was just perfect for fall salmon fishing with bobber and bait. The flood caused a major river channel shift that left the hole high and dry. A new hole was formed just down river and for the first few years this new hole produced comparable catches. What we can see here from this example that I watched for several years is that river structure and holding water can and will change. The fish will react by simply finding new holding water of the same type. To sum this up, often times we think that the run on any given year might be bad but the reality might be that the fish are using different holding water that you have not located yet. This is also why I like to revisit spots that I haven't tried in a few years, to see if anything might have changed to my advantage.

    Illustration shows shift in Oxbow Channel and holding water after winter flooding.

    This year one of my favorite spots that has great looking water is not producing. I can only tell now after 3 months of dredging it 1 or 2 days a week with the same lures that always produced in the past. Even more suspicious is that I know for a fact that for weeks decent numbers of fish were moving through the area and have now since passed by. My results from this once favorite hole yielded only 2 hookups all season. Knowing the hole as well as I do, I can tell and feel that the hole has changed since the years I did well. The two fish I did hook were not even in the area of the hole I expected them to come from. Meanwhile a small steelhead hole I fish often up river has been holding salmon for the past few weeks that were never there before in years past. something has changed the holding patterns of the fish.

    Sandy River in Winter, flood stage and low water, Troutdale area.

    Those of us that fished the Sandy often would experience this shift almost every year in some places because the river bed is made mostly of sand and clay. The Sandy River has a fast down hill gradient and originates from a glacier on Mount Hood. During periods of snow melt and heavy rain the river can raise to a thunderous rage that shifts and changes everything you thought you knew how to fish. Some locations have a stable rock bed that doesn't move during floods but even still will often fill with sand during the warm months, changing the overall depth of of the holding spots. Do not panic to much since the river will most likely change again the following winter. I don't think anyone ever really learns a river like the Sandy, it changes to much. You can learn how to fish the river but you can never really learn the river itself beyond a season or two. The shifts and changes in the lowland river take longer. Also mostly caused by floods or down trees the holes in these rivers do change but the degree is much more subtle and takes much longer. The drawback here is that these changes will take longer to undue and render a great hole useless for years to come. Your favorite hole might not by producing fish but this doesn't mean the run is bad. In this case the way to deal with it is to attempt to locate new holding water they might be using and learn it well ><,>

    Clackamas River at flood stage in winter, Carter Bridge area.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Let's Talk About the Annual Instability of Holding Water started by Chinook Winterwolf View original post