There’s few things I love more than fly fishing a small stream and stumbling upon a steep vertical waterfall, that has a deep plunge pool at its base. Waterfalls like the one pictured above are pretty rare on small streams, but if you’re lucky enough to locate one of these gems, you could very well next find yourself hooked up to one of the biggest trout in the entire stream. Below are four reasons why I feel waterfall plunge pools are great places to look for big trophy trout on small streams.
1. Tons of food gets washed over waterfalls, especially during high flows.
Large amounts of food (like tiny fish, aquatic insects, crustaceans and amphibians) regularly get swept over waterfalls. In many cases, it provides a steady enough stream of food that a big fish will take up long-term residence, and won’t be required to leave the plunge pool to fulfill its daily food requirements.
2. There’s usually lots of hiding places to make big fish feel safe and allow them to survive for long periods.
During high flows, fallen trees can float over the falls and get snagged, creating perfect log jams for big trout to hide and ambush prey. The whitewater at the foot of the waterfall also provides a protected roof, allowing trout to feed safely without being seen by predators. Furthermore, the constant water cresting the falls, creates a deep plunge pool overtime that provides deep water protection and suitable habitat year round, even during drought conditions, and provides plenty of room for big fish to forage efficiently.
3. Waterfalls that are big and steep enough, create a natural feeding funnel for big fish.
Both juvenile migrating fish and stockers moving upstream in search of cool water or improved habitat, will find themselves naturally funneled into a dead end trap by waterfalls. The natural barrier of a waterfall allow big fish to wait in prime lies to ambush the trapped prey.
4. They usually Provide a high vantage point to help You spot big fish.
When the location permits, I regularly will access high vantage points so I can peer into the deep clear water and try to spot big fish. Just before Louis shot this photo, I had just done this and spotted a trout over 20″. Unfortunately, before I could get into position to make a cast, the trophy spotted me and tucked under a log jam out of reach. Utilizing a high vantage point didn’t pay off for me that time, but it has numerous other times in the past. If there’s a big fish in the plunge pool, you can bet it’s very smart and you’ll probably only get a few presentations before your cover is blown. Spotting a big fish before it spots you, is half the battle, and will tilt the odds in your favor.
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