An irrigation canal is not the small ditch of moving water you see on lots of farms and ranches.
A canal, by my definition, is a much larger body of water that usually feeds the smaller ditches.
Believe it or not, irrigation canals can be home to trout of various species and sizes. I know, you're thinking this
guy is having his cigars rolled at a medical cannabis store, but bear with me.
I have fly-fished in irrigation canals in the past, but as I got busy guiding, I pretty much forgot how well they
Really, what client wants to be told they have flown a thousand miles to fish in an irrigation canal? However, once I
retired, I began to seek out new places to fly-fish. I stumbled on and rediscovered irrigation canals this past fall.
As I was walking to a local river, it dawned on me that I was crossing a canal right at its headgate. As I crossed, heading for the river, I glanced up and down the canal and noticed trout rising. I didn't think much of it, and kept
walking to the river.
After fishing on the river with limited success, I remembered the trout rising in the canal. The canal was very close
by and paralleled the river. I thought, what the heck, and moved over to the irrigation canal.
By this time, I was a pretty good ways from the headgate and really thought nothing would have moved this far down
I was wrong - way wrong.
As I stood on the edge of the canal, I figured I would just pretend it was a small stream and fish it accordingly.
I eased into the canal and stood very still, just to see if anything was rising. I saw trout rising an easy cast
ahead of me along the bank.
I tied on a Parachute Adams and proceeded to work the canal as if it were a small stream without any structure.
Similar to a small stream, I found if I moved slowly, made gentle presentations and worked the banks - this was the
only place a trout could find a place to hide - it was worth the effort.
I was rewarded with strike after strike. Much to my surprise, I found this canal was home to trout more than 12
This canal is very similar to other canals I have fly-fished. It is, on average, 2 feet deep. The bottom consisted of
sand, gravel and moss.
It is, on the whole, an ideal place for us mature (old) fly-fishermen with bad knees and backs to wade. The whole
idea of an irrigation canal is to move water as easily as possible. If there were turns and trees in the canal, the
purpose would be defeated.
I, for one, am really happy this canal was doing what it was designed to do.
As I got closer to the headgate, I found large numbers of itty-bitty trout. On either side of the gate it looked like
a beehive of 3-inch trout. I can only guess the water moving through the gate provided food and shelter for these
trout. Canals on private land are just that, private. Be sure and get permission from the landowner before you ease
into a canal.
Also, the appropriate fishing license needs to be obtained. As always, catch-and-release is a great policy. But if
you're going to keep fish, stay within the legal bag limit.
I think an irrigation canal is a great place for youngsters seeking their first trout or us old codgers looking for
an easy place to wade.
So, whether you're new to fly-fishing or a veteran, take the opportunity to explore and fly-fish new places in the
Reach Don Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org