The beauty of life is that there are a certain number of constants, and one of which is that the weather does what it does. There are all sorts of scientists, yet no one can actually control the weather at this point. If you are a die-hard trout angler, summer is the time when you are totally at the mercy of Mother Nature.
For summer anglers, July is a gamble, but August is usually a good month for trout. The cooler nights begin to lower the water temperatures back into the range preferred by salmonids. It isn’t a question of if this will happen, but a question of when.
The author fishing for trout in the Adirondacks in the summer.
The magic number is 70 degrees. Once water temperatures cross above this line, trout go into survival mode, seeking out springs with any inflow of enough cool water to keep them comfortable. When the temperatures finally lower back to the mid 60s or less, the fish go back on the feed.
During the summer months there are predictable hatches on most trout streams, such as the little black Tricos, a staple summertime hatch. In addition to the tiny Tricos, land insects are just as important. There are a variety of insects whose entire lives are based on the land, and they are important food sources for trout during the summer months.
Trout Love ‘Hoppers’
One type of land bug that finds its way into trout streams are grasshoppers. “Hoppers” hatch out each summer, and many of them accidentally hop their way right into a stream and become dinner for a trout. A hopper is a big, juicy meal for trout, an easy source of protein that they can get in one bite, instead of having to catch lots of tiny little bugs, which take much more effort to gather and fill a trout’s stomach.
When trout are feeding on hoppers, they actually compete to get them. The hopper hatch is a great chance at a big trout, because usually the biggest and the baddest get the most food. Hoppers can be unavailable on some streams, particularly those in wooded areas. Hoppers are usually found in places where there are some fields adjacent to the stream. They usually are found in grassy fields, and if none border the stream, they won’t be an important food source.
There are plenty of other land insects that pique the interest of trout during the summer. Ants are very common and they also end up in the water enough for trout to notice them. Ants are also an easy pattern to tie. In addition to ants, there are other bugs that make their way into the water including crickets, beetles and inchworms.
One of the big bonuses to fishing terrestrial patterns is that trout are not overly selective when they are eating land insects because there is not a true “hatch.” Summertime trout can be sipping midges or something similar and will drop what they are doing when a cricket or inchworm shows up in the middle of the pool. Trout can’t pass up a big easy meal when they are spending their energy eating the small stuff.
Many times, the areas that trout key in on for terrestrial patterns are the edges of the stream. Trout will seek out undercut banks or will lay under overhanging branches, yet they dart out if a quick meal presents itself close enough.
Spooky In Shallow Water
One of the biggest problems for summer trout fishing is that the water is low, and the fish are much more easily spooked. Low water makes it easier for trout to spot predators, including fishermen. They are much more nervous about coming out into the open during the summer. Summertime trout anglers have to hunt their fish with as much stealth as they would use stalking a big deer. Sloppy wading will spook fish without a minute’s hesitation.
A summertime rainbow.
Summertime trout fishermen need camouflage as much as hunters do. Wearing your brand new red shirt or yellow hat might make you look cool, but it also spooks fish. The best summertime trout anglers wear olive or dark colors that blend in with the vegetation. Some anglers actually wear camouflage clothing.
When you are dealing with clear water where the trout can see everything, keeping a low profile will also result in more fish. Try and fish with all the intensity of a Great Blue Heron stalking its prey and you will excel during the summer. While it is tough to catch numbers of trout during the summer, it is a good time to fool some of the biggest fish of the season.
Fly fishing for trout during the summer months is not a cakewalk, but summertime trout fishing offers a lot to the angler. The fishing is difficult, and therein lies the challenge. Get it right and you have a good chance at a big fish; get it wrong and you have to start all over again.
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