Count back the amount of times that the stillwater of mid-summer has sent you into absolute fits. The good news is that you can change all of that with a few simple tricks and techniques; all you need to do is understand just a little better how trout act in these months.
In the midst of summer, trout will often feed in packs and swim along just inches below the surface as they search for larvae of mosquitoes and other tiny organisms that are trapped under the water. You may even notice their fins poking through the water as they swim so high in the water slurping food as they go. Flies are easy to see, mediocre imitations can produce results and the odds seem to be tilted completely into your favor.
What you will notice right away is that catching these surface trout with wet or dry flies can seem downright impossible. Certain tiny parachutes or loop-wings can produce occasional results but not enough to warrant a daily trout fishing trip. The key to regular success with these trout is to go small and to place your lure or bait right where the fish expect to see it. Keep in mind the idea that trout love small food because there is so much of it and it is too easy to feed on. Maximum nutrition with miniscule amounts of effort.
If you really want to understand what trout are feeding on at this time of year then you should take the time to sit downstream with a small net. Skim the surface and within five minutes you are going to see exactly what is lying around and what the trout are after.
Once you have an idea of what fly to present, the key is putting it in the right place. Your fly is going to be competing with thousands of other organisms and food sources for the trout’s attention, so timing and placement is of the utmost importance. Sometimes a tiny ant is the perfect option in the summer, but the most common would be drifting midges that are miniscule in size. In the summer, size is the most important aspect but if you want variety then you can always bring along a variety of colors such as tan, olive, and black.
Proven Tactics on the Surface
Patience is a virtue when targeting trout that are feeding on the surface. These fish are very easily spooked and know that they are in a vulnerable position so be sure that you give them time to settle in and gain confidence before tossing your line right at them.
When finding a spot to cast it is important to analyze the sun’s position. Trout will not be able to see as well above the water if you fish mainly on the sunny side of the stream so you are better off hiding out there.
When going after vulnerable trout it is important to master the art of side arm casting in order to reduce the height of your cast and cut down on splash or water drops that could send fish scurrying in an instant. You can also begin by working your way into the water. Start with a short cast on the far side of the fish and slowly get closer and closer with each cast. Begin with larger flies and once you are sure that the trout are disinterested you can begin going smaller and smaller.
Fishing in Stillwaters
Pond and lake trout will often feed in small groups and it is very important that you notice the fish before they notice you. Get the right equipment such as polarized glasses and dark clothing and be sure to use an underarm cast. Once you have spotted the pod of trout you should be able to tell which direction they are headed. Throw out a cast about 10-15 feet in front of the pod and wait for them to stumble upon your fly. If you drop it right on top of them or attempt to force-feed the group then they may take off and hide for the rest of the day. Wait for the fish to come to the fly and be ready to set the hook. As it strikes, pull down with your line hand and lift the tip of the rod gently. A hard yank may pull the small fly right out of your catch’s mouth or snap the tippet altogether. Be gentle but firm enough to hook in.
The key is to shun frustration when targeting cruising trout. Begin using the largest patterns that the fish seem interested in and suspend them just below the surface of the water. Remember to be sly and stealth like when approaching areas and casting and be sure to allow trout to find your line, not the other way around.
Observe, experiment, and stick with it and you will be fooling the surface and cruising trout on a regular basis.