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Trout Fishing Where A River Or Stream enters a lake - Part 1

Anywhere rivers or streams enter lakes is a hotspot for trout fishing action.

So it should be. The river or stream provides current-borne food. The river or stream water can be cooler than the lake providing relief for summer trout. Trout must pass through this area on their way into or out of the river.

In some lakes, rivers and streams are spawning water and trout will stack up at river and stream mouths waiting for whatever is the signal to head upriver to spawn.

As the river or stream enters a lake it can form three main types of features:

Fishing these river and stream entry points can be available from a boat or the shore. Or use a combination of both, i.e. using the boat to reach mouths that are inaccessible by shore, then disembarking, and fishing from shore.

Very often the best fishing at river and stream mouths is at night, especially dark nights. Fishing these areas at night is covered in the chapter on [Night Fishing].

Fan mouths

The make-up of a typical fan is relatively similar regardless of the lake they are found in, except for the size and depth of the fan, and the depth of the water the fan is spreading into.

A rip at sunset

Anglers fishing the 'rip' at sunset. The rip is the ruffled water, the mouth of the stream is just out of the photo to the left.

But typically the fan is made up of sand, mud, shingle, or as in Lake Taupo, pumice sand. The river or stream carries or pushes this material in its flow until it meets the still lake water and once the flow is slowed the material drops to the bottom.

At the outer edge of the fan there is usually a ‘lip’, a small ‘cliff’ of material from the river. This lip can vary from just a few centimetres to over 70 metres, depending on the size of the river or stream, or the depth of the lake.

Despite the fact that the fan can be many metres wide and have current flowing over the entire fan, there is usually a narrow area of stronger current flowing over the fan. Once the current flows over the lip of the fan it slows, but the stronger central flow, - the 'rip'- will drag the slower edges of the flow into a narrow current streaming into the lake.

The rip concentrates both current-borne food from the river, and other feed drawn in by the converging currents from the lake.

On calm days this can often be seen as rippling water flowing over the lip – this rippling water converging in a triangle to a narrow ‘stream’ or ‘rip’ as it runs out into the lake. (the narrow band of ruffled water shown in the photo above)

Quick Tip – Finding the Rip

Throw a handful of small pumice, small sticks, leaves, anything that will float across the general rip area. This dross will drift out in the current and then converge giving you a very clear idea where the centre of the rip is.

Shallow fans

Shallow fans are usually formed where the slope of the lake bottom is not a great deal different from the slope of the bottom of the river where it enters the lake, and the lake slope continues this way for some distance out into the lake.

Most shallow fans are best fished from the shore and can be fished in a variety of ways. How they are fished is dependent on the strength of the flow from the river or stream, and the depth of water off the lip.

Another constraining factor around Taupo fans is the number of anglers fishing the rip, which can be five or many more. Sometimes despite good sense you simply have do what everyone else is doing to avoid massive tangles.

Remember rips concentrate everything in or on the current into a narrow current, including fly lines.

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Depending on the depth of water and strength
of the current in the rip:

Fishing the rip

Use a floating line to a three or four metre leader to a baitfish imitation wet fly. Stand to one side or other of the main rip. Cast down and across the rip (10 o'clock if 12 o'clock is straight out from the fan), throw in three or four metres of slack line to give the fly time to sink. Once the line straightens, retrieve the fly up your side of the rip.

Use an intermediate or sinking line, with a two-metre leader to a wet fly, cast across and down the rip (11 o'clock), and let go about three or four metres of line to allow the fly to sink. Once the line straightens, retrieve up the side of the main rip.

Use a Booby fly off a short leader on a fast sinking shooting head, as covered in the chapter [Booby fly-fishing] that follows.

Fishing shallow lips

On most fans there is a 'lip', that is the edge of the fan where it drops into deeper water. On some fans the lip may be only half a meter or so, on bigger fans the lip can drop tens of meters (see deep fans below).

Shallow lips display themselves by an area of ruffled water running back some meters from the lip.

A lip has a lot to offer trout. They can tuck behind the lip, out of the main current, and rise up to pluck out bugs and beasties from the current above. The ruffled water coming off the lip helps to disguise their presence from predators.

Despite the above it is amazing how many fishermen believe it is best to wade as deep as they can, often out past the lip. All too often this simply frightens fish who take off at high speed for parts unknown.

a shallow lip in a rip

A lip has a lot to offer trout.

They can tuck behind the lip, out of the main current, and rise up to pluck out bugs and beasties from the current above.

Baitfish often stack up behind the lip, for some rest before moving up-river, or to feed on plankton coming down the river. The ruffled water coming off the lip helps to disguise their presence from predators.

So standing back from the lip and casting so the fly drifts across the lip is the proven fish taker. I usually swing a cast or two right on the lip, then add another half meter to the cast and repeat, then another half meter and so on till I have covered the ruffled water.

Then I move out to one side or other of the rip, and cast as shown in the first illustration.

Deep fans

Deep fans are those where the end of the fan is in deep water, from say five metres or more. Some fans can be fished from both the shore and a boat, but often fishing from a boat is the safest option.

Many fans that drop into deep water are like large underwater sand dunes. As you walk towards the front edge (the 'lip) the sand gives way in a mini avalanche.

Not much of a problem on dry sand, sometimes fun even, but in waders – dead dangerous, sometimes and sadly, dangerous and dead.

There have been several people drowned, and many near-misses on deep fans. Great care must be taken fishing anywhere near the edges of deep fans from the shore.

It would be, and there is only one word for it - stupid - to fish a deep fan at night without first studying the rip (and lip) in daylight, preferably with someone who knows it well.

The key to successfully fish deep fans is to have your fly as close as possible to the main current in the rip. Problem is, this rip can swing a long way across the face of the fan – however the base of the rip, where you should be standing usually stays relatively static.

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