- Tyler Legg
- Charlotte, NC, United States
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Sunday, July 3, 2011
The dog days of summer are upon us and people are searching long and hard for any possible way to stay cool. Like humans, trout seek cooler refugees away from the heat when the temperatures soar. Have you ever wondered why the fishing was great in the spring, but is downright horrible in July? In this article, you'll discover tips to not only stay cool out on the river, but catch fish as well.
Trout and Heat
Trout and heat don't mix. Trout are coldwater fish and are incapable of thriving in warmwater. When the heat rises, the dissolved oxygen in rivers and streams plummets. Without a deeper, cooler refugee that holds more dissolved oxygen, trout become very stressed. Dissolved oxygen is essentially microscopic oxygen gas bubbles in the water. As water moves moves past a their gills, those microscopic bubbles are circulated into the bloodstream. The colder the water, the more O2 gas bubbles for the trout to soak in. Just like all terrestrial animals on earth, without oxygen, life can't go on.
Locating Trout When the Heat Prevails
Just because the "temperature tolerance range" extends to the low 70s for brown trout, doesn't mean it's healthy for them. They can withstand water temperatures this high, given they can seek shady, slightly cooler areas of the river. A lot of times in the summer, you'll find more fish closer to the banks, where thick overhanging trees and vegetation provides them with shade and cover from predators above. Along with shade, trout will seek more turbulent water, where dissolved oxygen levels are more plentiful. A plunge pool is a perfect example. Zero out these areas and work them over. When the sun begins its descent behind the mountains, fish will usually spread out as evening hatches begin.
What Flies Do I Use?
Here in the southeast, it's rare to find wild trout that are extremely selective. Nine times out of ten, fish will rise to a fly randomly picked from your box. As long as it looks like food and acts like food, most fish won't be fickle. The better question would be "how would I go about presenting my fly?" It depends on the fly of choice. A small Parachute Adams is designed to land on the water softly. The Adams dry fly imitates dark bodied mayflies and mayflies land on the water's surface softly, so your fly should land on the water softly. On the other hand, a big hopper is a bit heavier, thus landing on the water with a "plop" sound. Your hopper pattern can be "smacked" onto the water. Don't overdo it, but a quick smack on the surface usually sends the trout into attack mode. Aside from mayflies and hoppers, yellow and green stoneflies, ants, beetles, inchworms, cicadas, a list of caddis species, and much more are usually readily available throughout the summer months. This time of the year, the trees have plenty of leaves and new growth to snag your flies. Make sure you have enough to share with the trees and still have some remaining flies to fish!
Playing Trout in the Heat
Aside from keeping yourself safe in the heat, this is the second most important thing an angler should know and properly carry out. Playing trout in the heat is extremely important. If the water temps are just too high (upper 60s on into the 70s) it's in your best interest to hit a higher elevation wild stream or make your way to a tailwater. Playing trout in the heat can be both stressful and life threatening to the fish. Remember to play them as quick as possible, keep them in the water, lifting out of the water for a brief moment when the cameraman is ready, and taking your time in reviving the fish to ensure he swims away on his own. If you can, revive the fish in faster water (where the dissolved oxygen is more plentiful) and release him in slower water.
What to Wear
Long days out in the heat, humidity, and sun require special clothing. A t-shirt is OK, but an SPF, breathable, and lightweight fishing shirt is much better. Long sleeve is also a good idea, believe it or not, as long as the sleeves have an effective way of releasing heat. I've been wearing Simm's popular long sleeve Solarflex shirt for a good while now. Not only does it keep the sun off of your arms and neck, it allows heat to exit effectively, allowing for protected arms. Lather up the sunscreen as well. As for hats, it's a personal preference. Personally, I've grown to love trucker caps. A lot of anglers have grown to love them. Along with wearing the proper clothing, drink plenty of water and if you're doing some hiking to reach that wild stream, take breaks as needed. Last, but not least, leave the waders behind. If you would prefer not to get wet, wear lightweight, breathable waders. Neoprene waders are way too thick. Wet wading is the way to go. Wading wet will keep you cool and comfortable. Pick up some comfortable wet wading shoes, or grab some wet wading gravel guards and wear your wading boots.
Don't let a little heat stop you from sitting inside all day! With some quick planning and a willingness to relocate to a different stream, fishing can be spectacular this time of the year.
Stocking Schedule Changes!
Make sure you check out the new stocking schedule provided by the NCWRC!
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