Catch More Fish in Hot Weather
Summer is often a joyous time for many folks, but it can also be a pretty tough time on the water. Unfortunately, without such luxuries as air conditioning and ice cream to help them stay comfortable, our finned friends must make do with whatever nature throws their way. Whether we're talking hot or cold, extreme temperatures not only alter the habits of us humans, but of course the fish must adapt, too. In the case of summer when the sun is blazing, mercury is rising, and water temps are increasing, this can be a particularly tough time, especially for species like trout that thrive in cooler water.
Here's a handful of tips to help you when fly fishing in hot weather...
Read the Water- The mid 50's (F) would be about the ideal water temperature for trout, but in summer it can be well above that. In fact, if the water on your local stream is around 70 (F) or greater, it's best to not even fish for trout because they are likely already feeling stressed. The warmer the water, the less oxygen trout have available to them.
Besides the bottoms of deep pools where water is colder, denser, and can hold more oxygen, riffles and waterfalls are other examples of great places to find trout. The waves, bubbling, and general turbulence aerates the water which increases oxygen content. Also don't overlook the mouths of tributaries or runoff coming into a stream as this mixing water can add oxygen and be colder, especially if coming from a higher elevation.
Get High- Speaking of higher elevations, that is a perfect area to fish in the heat of summer. Up in the mountains the daytime highs are cooler, nighttime lows are lower, winds regularly blow strong, and there can often be leftover snow around which can influence water temps. Back in my younger years, my family and I used to take one or two trips every summer to the Eastern Sierras in California. While some of the lower elevation valley areas in the region could be pretty toasty, I spent most of my time during the middle of the days fishing the higher elevation lakes and creeks with great success.
Shady Stuff- If it's hot and sunny out, what's one place you can find some relief? The shade! Fishing shady spots—even if it's just a small patch—are major fish attractors on hot, sunny days. Things like submerged boulders, downed tree limbs, or even something unnatural like a submerged lawn tractor (I know this from experience!) can also cast small shadows on the bottom that aren't super obvious from above the water's surface.
Early Riser- It's no secret that the best fishing is often early and late in the day when the light is low. During periods of hot weather both times can be productive, but I especially like the early morning because the water has really had a chance to cool off during the long overnight hours. Speaking of overnight, don't forget about night fishing...a great time to catch big fish like brown trout and bass.
Tailwaters- This is the name given to a river or stream that begins at a dam or similar structure. Tailwaters are known for clean and consistently cool water temps because they are fed by deep lake waters on the other side of the structure. This makes them ideal places to fish in the summer. The White River in Arkansas would be a very famous example of a prime tailwater trout fishery.
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