Mountain creeks

Mountain creeks

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
Don’t overlook that high-mountain stream or creek next time you’re looking for a backcountry fishing adventure

The dog days of summer are upon us. As the mercury skyrockets and the sun broils us 15 hours a day, few things are more attractive than leaving town and heading into the mountains to dunk a line (and maybe some sweaty feet) into a newfound creek or stream.

For anglers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of town, or potentially crowded lakes and reservoirs, mountain streams are a gateway to peace and quiet.

What’s often overlooked are the headwaters and tributaries of those famous trout streams. They’re typically teeming with trout, less crowded and provide an opportunity for solitude in the mountains. Naming names would defeat the purpose of discovering backcountry streams. It usually doesn’t matter what its name is, or how narrow it is, chances are good there are fish to be caught and memories to be made.

If you’re new to the concept of finding mountain streams to fish, here are some pointers to help find the perfect creekside fishing camp this summer.

The long blue lines

Firstly, don’t overlook those tiny streams trickling through meadows or snowmelt creeks flowing into larger rivers. Often depicted as narrow, blue lines on a topographic map, these creeks and streams can provide ideal conditions for fish.

Using Google Earth, paper Forest Service maps or your favorite outdoor GPS app, pull up an area you’re wanting to scope out. Maybe drop in a nearby designated campground in the search bar for quick and easy directions. Narrow in on widely used forest service roads that sometimes follow major waterways.

Now you’ve got a starting point. Oftentimes, main roads skirting along a river sprout side roads that traverse smaller creeks and provide any number of camping and pulloff opportunities.

Hot Tip: You’ll often hear experienced anglers talking about “pools” when it comes to fishing on flowing water. These barely moving, deep pockets along a waterway are where fish like to hang out most of the time. Think knee- to chest-high water that you’d want to swim around in yourself. When you’re traveling along a road in search of a prime fishing spot, this should be the first feature you look for.

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