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6 Tips For Dealing With Muddy Water

6 Tips To Deal With Muddy Water

Muddy water is an unavoidable “annoyance” for the fisherman. It never fails - you make your plans, call your friends, get the flies made, and the night before, an inch of rain wrecks your plans. Your favorite fishery is now a mud hole.

What should you do now?

Here’s a few options:

This solution is not as fun for me, but in the winter I will do this sometimes. Mainly because this option is coupled with warmth, coffee, and baked goods (sometimes). However, it’s not my favorite option. You can restock for clearer skies, or stop in our shop and chat for a bit to remind yourself of how fun the fishing would have been…

Bigger lakes don’t tend to muddy up as quickly and easily as rivers. They will get stain to them, but it doesn’t completely shut down the fishing. This is a solid option if you were planning on taking out kayaks out with your crew as higher water levels on a lake don't translate to more dangerous conditions. Also, Lynchburg has a LOT of lakes within 40 minutes that are worthy of your exploration. You may even find a few new fish species: Chain Pickerel, Channel Catfish, and Yellow Perch are just a few examples!


Small streams aren’t affected as much as you’d think by an inch of rain. In fact, through the summer months, fishing around the rainfall is one of the only ways you can safely and successfully fish them. Rain drops the air and water temperature and gives the fish more water to get out and move around in. In the summer, when the temperature is safe for trout (anything under 68-70 degrees), fishing small streams during or after rain storms can be a SOLID option. Fish hammer dry flies, and you can have a banner day even though your original plans got wrecked.


Our summer storms are often localized. It can dump an inch of rain on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge, and everything on the western side will stay dry. This means upstream of the storm is perfectly fine for floating! Within an hour of town, there are loads of fishing options in almost every direction. If it dumps rain here, you can always go up river on the James, find a small stream, or travel to a totally different part of the state to get your fishing fix.


This means a bit of travel, but from Lynchburg we have a couple options for tailwaters. Tailwaters are rivers made by the releases from a dam. For a tailwater to hold trout in our neck of the woods, it has to be a bottom release dam. A bottom release keeps the river as cold as the bottom of the lake. This time of the year, that temperature has been staying around 60-61 degrees. As long as the dam isn’t doing huge pulses as a result of the rain, you can have some great fishing! This can be easily figured out by looking at the USGS release schedule. It should be noted, though, that in the summer the water can heat up downstream quicker than you may think. Fishing closer to the dam means colder water, so you will find more success there.

Fish don’t disappear in muddy water. They’re still in the river. Now, obviously, I don’t recommend  doing anything unsafe. You need to be confident in your ability, have the proper safety equipment, and not do anything stupid. But, if the water levels are normal and there aren’t large debris rolling downstream, you can still float when the water is muddy. I’ve caught some surprisingly large fish in muddy water. Focus on the edges of the river and eddies, and use bigger flies that move water, create sound, and (or) are super bright as this will give you the best chance for your fly to be found in the chocolate milk!

Don’t let a little rain get you down. It’s great for the farmers that depend on it, it helps restart the fishing and keeps our fish healthy. If you plan on becoming a better angler, you will need to learn to deal with rain and muddy water!