When flows are up, you just need to switch tactics and get a little “catfishy” in your approach. Plunking fits that bill nicely and will help you catch fish when the flows are up.
First, a quick look at a simple plunking rig. The idea here is to use enough weight to anchor your gear to the bottom (unlike normal steelhead fishing methods, we don’t want it to drift while plunking) and wait for the fish to come to you.
I’ll always use some sort of big and loud attractor like a Size 2-4 Spin-N-Glo or Flashing & Spinning Cheater. You can go with just this and catch steelies but it never hurts to add a little bonus bait on there — roe, sand shrimp, etc. work well.
High water steelhead will avoid the heavy flows out in the middle of the river and instead travel narrow lanes that are very close to shore.
That’s where you want to cast your rig. It depends on the size of the river, but shorter casts are always better when the water’s up. Sometimes you’ll need to toss 20 feet out and others you’ll only need to make a 5-foot lob.
Plunking is a relaxing, often social affair in which you put your rod in a holder or a forked stick and then plop down on a nice chair and shoot the breeze with your fellow anglers. Or, when it’s wet, you can hang out inside the truck.
Some anglers put a bell on their rod to signal when they get a bite. Speaking of rods, for plunking you’ll need a stouter outfit than you’d normally run for steelhead because you’ll need heavy lead to keep your gear put.
I like a 12-25 lb outfit with 40-pound braid. Spinning or casting is fine…that’s up to personal preference.
Want more info? Check out my huge 300 page eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Steelhead Bank Fishing.