4 Reasons Why Waterfall Plunge Pools Can Hold Big Fish

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Targeting deep plunge pools below waterfalls for big trout. Photo By: Louis Cahill

There are few things I love more than wade fishing a small stream and stumbling upon a steep vertical waterfall with a deep plunge pool.

Waterfalls this size are pretty rare on small streams, but if you’re lucky enough to locate one, you could very well find yourself hooked up to one of the biggest trout in the stream. Here’s four reasons why I feel waterfalls plunge pools are great places to look for big trophy trout on small streams.

1. Lots of food gets washed over a waterfall, especially during high flows.

Large amounts of food (tiny fish, aquatic insects, crustaceans and amphibians) are constantly being swept over the falls. In many cases, it provides a steady enough stream of food, that big fish aren’t required to leave the plunge pool to fulfill their daily food requirements.

2. There are usually lots of hiding places to make big fish feel safe and allow them to survive for long periods.

During high flows, quite often fallen trees can float over the falls and get snagged; creating perfect log jams for big trout to hide in. The whitewater at the foot of the waterfall provides a protected roof, allowing trout to feed safely without being seen by predators. Constant water cresting the falls, creates a deep plunge pool overtime that provides deep water protection and enough room for big fish to forage efficiently.

3. Waterfalls that are big and steep enough, create a natural feeding funnel for big fish.

Migrating fish moving upstream in search of cool water, and stocked fish in search of fresh holding lies find themselves funneling into a dead end. This allows big fish to wait in prime lies to ambush trapped prey.

4. You can usually utilize a high vantage point to help 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 the big boy spotted me and tucked under a log jam. I wasn’t able to get a good presentation to the fish. It didn’t pay off for me that time, but it has numerous other times in the past, and I highly recommend taking the time to scan the water before fishing when possible. 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 the big fish before it spots you, is half the battle, and will put the odds in your favor.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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5 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why Waterfall Plunge Pools Can Hold Big Fish

  1. Fred: Dapping, long rods, and a systematic side to side sweep of the water. or instead of the biggest plunge pools, I also will search out areas where a riffle drops off into a deep “plunge-run” for lack of better terms and then fish from upstream into the deep water.

    Love the foam line bouncing off the tree and rocks near the tail end.

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