How to Find Places to Fly Fish

Of course, a major concern when contemplating entering the sport of fly fishing is where to fish and what species of fish to fish for. However, regardless of where you live, as long as there is a body of water nearby that contains fish, you can fly fish for them. But, because most people associate fly fishing with Trout, this section will focus on the different types of Trout water. Therefore, it is important to note that all Trout streams can be categorized as one of four different types of water: a Spring Creek, a Freestone Stream, a Limestone Stream, or a Tailwater and the definition of each type of stream is listed below:


How to Find Places to Fly Fish

Spring Creeks

A Spring Creek is a stream who’s main source of water is derived from rainfall resulting in ground water accumulation and which has a relatively constant temperature. Therefore, all mountain creeks are properly classified as Spring Creeks. In addition, many Spring Creeks originate in mountain ranges that have extensive deposits of limestone which is much softer than the surrounding granite rock. Thus, because the limestone erodes more easily than the harder rock, this erosion creates an extensive system of underground, mineral rich, creek, rivers, and reservoirs. When this mineral rich water emerges above ground as a spring and starts its journey downhill, it collects to form a Spring Creek or a Limestone Stream which in turn creates an exceptionally rich environment for aquatic plants, aquatic insects, and trout. Therefore, because both the water temperature and the volume of water in a Spring Creek is less erratic than that of a Freestone Stream and, because of the greater abundance of aquatic plants and aquatic insects, fish inhabiting a Spring Creek are generally larger than those inhabiting a Freestone Stream because they have a longer growing season and more food available to them.

Limestone Streams

Limestone Streams are Spring Creeks that flow through large deposits of limestone either below and/ or above ground and are most often associated with streams that have a relatively consistent water temperature and a relatively consistent and relatively slow current. Therefore, the phrase “Limestone Stream” is most often associated with streams that have a low gradient and a gentle current along with extensive beds of aquatic plants which in turn create an exceptionally rich environment for various species of aquatic insects and the trout that feed on them. Consequently, Limestone Streams are the richest environment available to trout because of the profuse, abundance of food, the lack of a swift current, and the lack of extreme temperatures. Thus, fish inhabiting Limestone Streams are often notably larger than fish inhabiting any of other three types of streams. However, although their topography differs greatly from the aforementioned definition, many Spring Creeks are also Limestone Streams because they too flow through large deposits of limestone.

Freestone Streams

A Freestone Stream is a stream from which main source of water is derived from runoff created by either melting snow or rainfall. They are characterized by drastically fluctuating water levels, steep gradients, and rapids during periods of high water flow. Therefore, because the supply of water in a Freestone Stream is so erratic, the volume of water in a Freestone Stream tends to peak during the early summer months and tends to diminish during the late fall and winter months and thus, a Freestone Stream is more readily influenced by the ambient air temperature. In turn, this results in a wider range of water temperatures than those of either Spring Creeks or Limestone Streams and thus winter can cause Freestone Streams to reach near freezing temperatures and summer can cause them to rise to temperatures as high as 70* F (which is the extreme upper limit of the temperature range within which trout can survive). Therefore, because the wide variation in both water volume and water temperature, coupled with the lack of dissolved minerals in a Freestone Stream, a Trout’s growing season (which occurs at water temperatures between 45 ° – 65 ° F) is drastically shortened. Consequently, the fish that inhabit Freestone Streams are generally notably smaller than those that inhabit Spring Creeks, Limestone Streams, or Tailwaters.

Tail Waters

Tail Waters are streams that are located below a dam which contains a reservoir and from which water is expelled from the bottom of the dam. Since this expelled water is drawn from the bottom of the reservoir, it has a consistently cold temperature which provides an excellent environment for various species of aquatic plants, aquatic insects, and trout for a couple of miles downstream of the dam. Consequently, most Tail Waters provide a rich environment for trout because they remain at a relatively constant temperature throughout the year and, they tend to produce very prolific insect hatches along with providing an extended growing season for trout. Therefore, trout inhabiting Tail Waters can easily be as large and as numerous as those inhabiting Limestone Streams and both the terrain and the current are often much less rugged than that of a Spring Creek or a Freestone Stream. Furthermore, finding these bodies of water is as easy as looking at a topographical map such as a DeLorme Gazetteer for your state. When doing so, all ponds, lakes, creeks, streams, and rivers will be shown in blue and any roads leading to them will also be shown. Also, a quick perusal of a U.S. Geological Survey map displaying mineral deposits is an excellent way to locate Limestone and/ or Spring Creeks. Therefore, lack of a place to fly fish is no longer an excuse for procrastinating!


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