Sunday’s Classic / Drop-Offs Are Trout Hot-Spots

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Hooked up fishing a drop off. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Definition of “Adjacent”just before, after, lying near; neighboring

Drop-offs located adjacent to shallow water are trout magnets. The slower moving water and cover found downstream of drop-offs are the two main reasons trout are drawn here. If you’re looking for super consistent water where you can almost always find trout, you should be searching out dropoffs or buckets on your streams and rivers where shallow water transitions into deeper water. The more significant (larger the area) the stretch of shallow water is, the more appealing the adjacent drop-offs will be to trout, especially when the shallow water upstream or downstream holds very little cover.

I regularly float over a long stretches of shallow unproductive water on my home tailwater. It’s about 200 yards long, calf deep at its deepest point, and it’s practically barren of any form of trout cover. The trout hate this section of the river because they’re sitting ducks to predators looking for an easy meal, and there’s nowhere for the trout to find refuge out of the excessive current. I’d say it’s a completely worthless piece of water on the river, but the fact is, it does serve a valuable purpose for us fly anglers. Long stretches of desolate trout holding water, will always make it’s neighboring drop-offs and deep water extremely attractive to trout, and in turn, trout will usually congregate there in substantial numbers. To put it more clearly, the first available good holding water for trout immediately before or after dead water, is usually a hotspot or honey hole.

Just the other day, as my drift boat moved past that 200 yard stretch of barren, shallow water, and we eased over the drop-off into the deeper water, my client hooked and landed a beautiful 20″ male rainbow trout. The fish put on a wonderful acrobatic aerial show, with a series of running jumps out of the water. The trophy couldn’t have shown up at a better time, because I had just explained to my client why adjacent drop-offs and deepwater were such hot-spots for trout. Next time you find yourself floating or wading through a section of dead water, you should be thinking, “where’s the adjacent drop-off or bucket” because chances are, that’s where you’re going to catch your next trout.

Have you experienced similar success fishing Drop-offs? We welcome your two cents. 

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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9 thoughts on “Sunday’s Classic / Drop-Offs Are Trout Hot-Spots

  1. Very true. Trout often congregate at the ‘door’ to the all you can eat buffet. That adjacent drop-off gives them the feeling of security and also the ability to move up when the feed trough/food conveyor belt gets going. Some of the biggest trout I have netted were either on that drop off or the inside edge of a deep bend. We get excited when we see deep swirling pools, but the active feeding fish are usually ahead of or just to the side, usually right where the angler is standing- and the fish are aware. On the big water of the Au Sable, much of the river is very similar, but on a certain big dog legged left bend, there is always a 2X4 brownie sipping bwo’s/ants, hennies or whatever happens to be filtered down his lane. But many anglers don’t see his gentle dimpled takes, they are often enamored at the deep sexy water on the far side of the river. Thanks for the heads up and keep looking for that sexy slick water.
    Tight Lines,

  2. Good post Kent. You and I have the same home tailwater, and your analysis is right on. Identifying holding water can be one of the most important skills a fisherman has in salt or fresh water. I frequently see folks flogging water that I know is barren and a waste of time and energy.

    I would add the fact that different conditions change the equation. For example, in the evening, when low light makes the shallow areas less dangerous, trout often move up from the drop-offs into the shallows to feast on a hatch. When that happens, the shallow waters can provide some of the best dry fly fishing.

  3. Matter of fact, Yes! Just yesterday fishing with some buddies hit a drop off and on the second drift….17.5″ fat Bow. Without a doubt, drop offs are great transition zones to work and spend time fishing. Trout like to hide under the faster current that flows over top as they hang just below a drop off saving energy and collecting easy food as it flows in from the faster skinny water. Smart little boogers arn’t they! Great post Kent and God bless

  4. Drop offs are a big deal even on the tiny ditches I fish. One bucket at the end of a long run of mostly damp cobble is so productive we only fish it a couple times in the spring and once in the fall, The fish are over sized for the creek but too gullible for their own good.

  5. On the Jackson River in Virginia I drifted a cone head squirrel hair combo into a deep pool made by the roots of a huge down tree following about 50 yards of shallow slow moving water. The lined straighted and I saw the side flash of what I thought had two be a piece of a 2 x 4 drifting down. Set, 15 minutes later on my H2 4wt mid flex my brother netted the 26 inch bully brown. Beautiful and stubborn as hell. Love those drop offs and deep holes following shallow runs.

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