Fishing spots are easy to come by, but do you know which ones are the best for your favorite type of fishing? One of the less known types of spot that people tend to overlook is below a dam. It might sound odd, but fishing below the dam might be absolutely amazing in terms of both convenience and concentration of fish. However, there are some things to keep in mind and to consider in order to make sure that you will have a trouble-free experience. But before we go over the details, let’s have a few more words about why fishing below a dam can be great.
Can You Fish Below The Dam?
The answer depends on whether it is both safe and legal to fish below a particular dam. We cover both of these questions below, but here is a synopsis: if the water is raging, or access is dangerous, just don’t do it. If there is improved access, and the water is calm, then gear up and go fishing.
Is The Fishing Good Below A Dam?
Yes, dam headwaters are often fantastic for fishing. In fact, they are likely to be one of the most active areas in the water reservoir you are planning to visit. There is plenty of new fish coming from a dam, and the oxygen-rich waters offer an excellent eco-system. The fish coming from the dam is likely to be very hungry, and you should not have any problem with them – as long as you use suitable bait and techniques.
Another advantage to consider is that these spots might not be the most popular, so you will have a relatively peaceful time – you will escape the crowds that are a common sight at popular lake destinations.
As great as fishing below a dam can be, there are some legal matters that you should keep in mind.
Is It Legal To Fish Below The Dam?
Legality of fishing below the dam varies from lake to lake. This is something that you will need to research yourself. The good news is that there are very few places (at least in the United States) where fishing below the dam is illegal. However, the fact that the spot is legal does not necessarily mean that you will be able to visit – you also need to find a way to get there without trespassing. Surprisingly, this might not always be possible, but we’ll talk more about this in a bit.
To give a few examples, Lake Texoma has a fantastic fishing area below the dam. There is plenty of parking, portages for kayaks, picnic areas and restrooms. Conversely, Lake Grapevine is absolutely prohibited.
Typically, dams have an official website or page where you can find out more about the rules there. Most of the time, there will be no problem fishing near the spillway. These places are great not just for fishing – swimming, kayaking, or just hanging out are popular activities in these spots.
A quick tip to narrow your search – hydroelectric power plants are typically a no-go zone. These are the spots where it is most likely to be illegal to fish. A perfect example of this is Broken Bow Lake. The fishing at the spillway is legendary, whereas the fishing below the hydro plant equipped dam varies from difficult to outright prohibited.
Can You Access The Water Safely And Legally?
Use your best judgement when trying to fish below a dam. Now, even if fishing is not prohibited at your desired location, you might not be able to get there just yet. You must make sure that you access the water legally – this means that you should not trespass through private properties. In most cases, you will be able to park some distance away and then make your way to the waterfront through public properties.
Unfortunately, you might not be able to get all the information you need from maps. In some cases, it might be good to check out local phishing forums and social media pages to find out what is the best way to access the water below the dam legally.
Keep in mind that you will be rarely be able to park at the waterfront. In most situations, you will need to find a parking spot as close as possible and then go on a hike to your spot.
Is It Safe To Fish Below The Dam?
Fishing below the dam is absolutely safe, but there is one thing that you must always check before heading out – the flow rate at the specific location. Shortly explained, this means how much and what speed water is flowing out of the dam and into the reservoir that you are about to fish in. In general, it is easy to determine whether the rate will be high or low. Rain results in a higher flow rate, while drought results in the opposite.
The good news is that flow rate data is publicly available, and you will be able to easily acquire up-to-date information about the situation.
Pay Close Attention To The Flow Rates
So, you have made sure that fishing is legal below the dam, and you have found a way to get there legally. The final thing to do is to check the flow rate. We already gave you a quick tip on how to estimate the flow rate, but you should certainly look into reliable sources for the most accurate and up-to-date information. This valuable piece of data is officially available on the page of the USGS River Flow Rates. The data there is updated daily and gives you current and past details about flow rates. Ideally, you would want a 300-600ft per second flow rate for the best experience. Slightly above this is also possible to fish in, but you would probably want to stay away if the rate goes above 1,000.
Needless to say, higher flow rates will result in a poor fishing experience, and swimming or boating in these conditions is certainly out of the question. If your desired location seems excellent otherwise, it is best to wait a few days or weeks until the flow rate normalizes and reaches the aforementioned rate of 300-600 feet per second.
As you can see, fishing below a dam is certainly possible – and many people are already frequenting such spots. As long as you do your research, you should have no problem finding a suitable spot. Do not hesitate to seek out local forums and pages to find out more if you have any doubts about the dam you have selected. Usually, local fishermen will be more than happy to provide you with tips and accurate information about the best roads to take and other tips they might have in store.