I haven’t found much time on the water lately. Between family stuff, work stuff, and weather stuff it hasn’t just happened. Yesterday I had the privilege of guiding a fella on a few local streams. He proved a quick study and landed fish on two very technical waters, and in difficult conditions. All fish were average sizd except one beast of a brown that launched out of the water before snapping the line. The kind of fish that’ll haunt your dreams!
With mostly sunny skies, crystal clear flows, and little insect activity conditions mid summer can be tough.
Mostly sunny skies
To combat Sunny skies there are a few things the fisherman can do. First, dressing in brown or green can help you blend into your trouty surroundings. Fish early and late. Choosing a stream that flows through a forested/shaded valley helps. Stay low and/or wade. It is important to keep your shadow off the water and your profile out of the trouts field of vision. Approach from a distance and make loooooong casts. Fish will tremble at the sight of you and your fly rod so follow these tips to keep a low profile.
Crystal clear water
After light to moderate rainfalls the water becomes stained and the fish are more easily approachable. When flows are low and clear stealth remains important. See a pattern? A long leader (9ft) and long, light tippet are also important. I’ll go around three feet of tippet as low as 6x.
Most insect activity in summer occurs in the morning and in the evening. A few mayfly species, caddis, midges, and craneflies are the main fare. I’ve found that mid summer hatch activity is the hardest to decode and depends heavily on stream conditions. They also vary from stream to stream. Hoppers, beetles, inch worms, and other terrestrials start to come on strong this time of year. Nymphing with dry-dropper rigs is a good way to go. Any nymph pattern will do but if you choose to fish with an indicator it should be as small as you can go while still buoyant enough to float. In the most difficult conditions choose a really small nymph.
Be patient. If you feel like your hearding ’em up/down stream they’re seeing you before you’re seeing them. Some days conditions are in the fishes favor but with a sneaky approach, a long leader and long/light tippet, and the right fly you can cobble together a great day of fishing.
I cut out of work early today to chase trout ahead of an incoming storm. I hadn’t visited my intended destination since last fall but I distinctly remember spotting some dandy trout and hope conditions would be good. I arrived on stream around 2pm under increasingly cloudy skies and temps in the low 80’s. I scrambled down from the road, tied on a streamer, and plied the green tinted waters.
Fish responded well to a faster retrieve. After a half dozen fish storm clouds gathered and fish became less skittish.
A few good fish came out of this pool. Unlike my last few outings trout were more spread out. Any spot that held a chalky greenish tint gave up a strike at least. Visibility measured around two feet.
This picture doesn’t do this fish justice . I’d guess he was around 16 or 17 inches. He sat on wait to ambush my fly in a shallow trough. Right as I released him the skies opened up. I continued upstream until I came across a long, deep pool.
This guy took the fly on a slow, deep twitch. After a brief photo session he returned to the drink and I returned, dripping wet, to the car. Skies started to clear as I emerged from the valley around 4pm. Today’s outing was a short but productive one!
This morning I returned to a stream I last visited last year. The valley is gorgeous and the trout are abundant.
I arrived on stream around quarter to nine to find fish rising in slightly stained, ice cold water. I tied on a quill bodied mayfly and immediately hooked into a few brownies!
As I worked down stream the river gained more sediment, clouding the water. Before too long I switched to the streamer.
Fish responded well! After landing a bunch of smaller trout this chunky guy came to hand.
I hoped to find an early hoppr or two but it’s been wet, which hoppers don’t like. After returning to the car I mulled over my options. I decided to fish another access point on the same stream in favor of checking out another stream. I’m glad I did!
This was my big fish of the day. Around 11am I headed home. Around two dozen fish came to hand in short order with most coming on the streamer. I didn’t notice any hatch activity but fish surfaces sporadically, mostly in pools and long slicks. Fish seemed healthy and well fed. And colorful.
Streams should continue to clear over the next few days. Fishing will be lights out on small streams in the coming week, especially if you hit water at the right time.
My friend invited me to hit up a few new-to-me streams. Despite less than ideal conditions throughout much of MN’s driftless area our destinations fished well. Water was cold and high with the perfect stain. We started out under cloudy skies at around 830am.
Fish responded well to my streamers throughout the afternoon. We landed a few dozen brown trout with the largest around 16 inches.
We rolled a few really nice ones too but couldn’t bring ’em to hand. A few brookies made an appearance too.
I was looking pretty serious after landing this beautiful brook trout. Various little bugs skittered about today but the only discernible hatch happened around noon, little black caddis. A few fish appeared to key in on them but not enough for me to fish dries. I did tie on a san juan worm.
The sj got my best fish of the day. This brookie was a tank! After a few dozen trout and a ton of walking we decided to call it a day. Special thanks to Jesse for snappin’ some pics and bringing me along to explore some new water.
Summer is here and with it comes outstanding opportunity to catch trout on the fly if you are willing to brave the streamside vegetation, creepy crawlys, and stifling heat. Right now conditions are not good. In the mn driftless we have gotten a ton of rain over the last week and most treams, while back within their banks, are too choked with sediment to fish. Still, if you know where to look trout can be found!
This nice trout swiped a few times without success before I finally got him. As streams clear streamers and worm patterns will work well. Fishing will be best from early am through the late am, then again from early evening till dark.
Today I got out after work and chased browns and brookies on a little stream that usually clears quick. The stream was a no go on Wednesday but today was good. Fish ate the San Juan worm at first but responded well to dries as soon as the clouds came in. Various nymphs, terrestrials, and dries will fish well all summer. Grasshoppers will come on strong within the next two weeks and will fish well on sunny, windy days.
This time of year fish will be fairly spread out. During early am and late pm hours fish will nose up onto shallower riffles. When the sun is high fish will relate to cover more. Pools and deep runs will harbor more fish. Don’t let the mosquitos, ticks, gnats, tall grass, wild parsnip, poison ivy, stinging nettles, oppressive heat, or chance of severe weather dissuade you. Fishing in summer is awesome. Just be sure to limit fish handling, fight em quick, and avoid fishing the heat of the day.