As anglers we want to make the most of our time on the water, this often means we target only prime water and hurry by the rest. Although this is obviously a wise strategy we frequently dismiss certain pieces of water as secondary and move past them when given specific hatches or conditions they might actually be the water holding the fish we plan to target. As seasons change, water levels fluctuate, hatches come and go or the sun rises and sets, fish move to feed, seek shelter and remain comfortable. Here are 5 types of water that are often discarded or passed by for “better” areas.

The water immediately in front of you

After years of guiding one of the most common things I told people was to scoot back and fish right in front of them. Anglers have a tendency to want to make long casts, fish the middle of the river or even the opposite bank line without ever fishing what’s right at their feet. This is especially important as fish move out of deeper lies and position themselves in shallow water in anticipation of a hatch.

I have watched as countless anglers, new and old, fish overtop of feeding fish in order to try and hit the deepest sections of a pool or run.  Don’t overlook the water that’s right in front of you, be observant, even if you have given it a once-through keep your eyes open as conditions, water temps and hatches are always changing.

Shallow sections of a lake or pond

There are much more appealing areas of a lake or pond than the shallow mud flat or weed bed, however, during the spring and fall, these areas often hold big fish. As the ice breaks up in the spring or temps drop in the fall fish can move into extremely shallow areas to stay comfortable or feed on chironomids, scuds, minnows or damselflies. These shallow areas warm up quickly in the sun and provide a good place for trout to sunbath or cruise looking for an easy meal. In my opinion, few things in fishing are more exciting than stalking a trout as it lazily feeds in shallow water.

Urban waters

Urban waters are typically not where we look for our next fishing spot but they can be a great place to pursue fish and more so when we are in a time crunch. Lunch breaks, between work and the house or running daily errands all provide a good excuse to sneak away to a local urban fishery and get a quick fix.

Backwaters or swampy flood zones of a river

These types of water mostly are passed by as we opt for a nice current with an obvious holding zone. Shallow, swampy backwaters can be tough to fish and don’t always hold fish, however, there are times when fish move into these areas to feed. A prime example of this is during the evening when trout, particularly brown trout, move into these areas to feed on mice, minnows or smaller trout under the cover of darkness. Take the time to scout areas like this out during the day and target the places where a big trout would enter or exit the area. They will often come in and hang out near a substantial depth change, shelf or near some cover where food might be hiding.


During the summer temps soar and drop below comfort levels in the winter but a spring provides more constant temperatures for fish. Trout move to these areas to overwinter or escape hot summer water. If you are unsure of where you might find a spring search local maps as they likely have springs marked on them. It’s always smart to note a spring when you find one, as they will almost certainly hold fish for much or all of the year.

Derek Olthuis is a creator and fly fisherman with Western Waters Media. Make sure to check him out on Instagram @derekolthuis!

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