Have you had trouble finding fish this summer with record heat? You might be asking yourself where the fish went. Did they get caught and kept? Did they move out of the area? Was there a fish kill? These are questions that fellow fly fishermen across the United States might have been asking themselves this summer battling the heat and drought conditions, especially in the Southeastern United States. So where did all the trout go? I promise you they are still there.
As the sun gets higher and the mercury in your thermometer looks like it’s going to explode, the fish are still biting. August and September are known as the dog days of summer. Most people prefer to be in the cool air conditioning where they are not struggling to breathe in the heat. It’s not much different for the trout. When the water temperature rises, the oxygen in the water decreases, so the trout move to areas where they can breath better and can be more comfortable.
Rivers have different thermal layers. The water temperature in a river is different in the first couple of feet than it is in a 5 foot deep hole. So while you were catching fish in a run at 2 feet deep in the spring, try fishing deeper in the summer time. The deeper water is not only cooler with better oxygen, but also provides protection to the trout from fishermen and birds of prey. Another area that might get neglected in the summer time is higher up in a run in areas where the water is turning and creating bubbles. These are natural areas where oxygen is put back into the water. Trout can get both oxygen and cover in these areas. This is a tip I recommend to anyone who fishes public waters that get hit hard anytime in the year. As fishing pressure increases, trout will move higher up into the runs where they are protected from being seen. Do not skip over these areas as the hours get later in the day from Spring through Fall.