62 - Top Tip - Summer fly fishing challenges- and tips to solve them!
Summer fly fishing challenges- and tips to solve them!
Whether you’re faced with algal bloom or heavy weed, or find fish desperately spooky in shallow, clear water, summer fly fishing brings its own challenges! Here are some top tips for the common problems you’ll encounter for trout and other species in the hotter months of the year, especially July and August.
Skinny water and spooky fish!
Low water levels are now a reality for many of our rivers. Streamy runs that were three feet deep a few months back might be only half that now. This can actually make finding the fish easier- but catching them is another matter!
The main issue here is that with water so low and clear, trout and other fish not only feel more exposed but can spot the angler more easily, especially when the sun is high in the sky. But what can you do?
On low water rivers, the angler does well to try lighter leaders and use any available cover!
Wading and approaching them with added care is an absolute must- as is refining your presentation. For example, if you were using a 9ft 5lb leader, go a little longer, say 12ft with a 3lb tippet, if there is space. Slow, glassy water is especially difficult, too, so you could instead try broken and faster runs- or come back in the evening when the fish feel bolder. Our previous article on low water fishing has further handy advice and some excellent low water fly patterns.
Heavy weed growth
This is a common one for the bank angler on stillwaters and rivers alike. You know the score- back in spring, the margins were clear. However, after weeks of sunny weather the plant growth has exploded!
Wading is often a must to get beyond marginal weed growth.
On stillwaters such as reservoirs, the best solution is to wade just beyond it. Don’t go to far, though, because trout will come right in to the edge of lakes to forage those rich margins. If it’s especially thick in weed, a boat or float tube might be better still.
As for rivers or venues where it’s bank fishing only, you will just have to adjust. One excellent shout is to increase the length of your rod. A ten-footer will give you a lot more reach than a lightweight wand of a rod. Similarly, pick a long handled landing net as well – because a three-metre model could be the difference between netting a big fish and losing it!
Prolonged sunlight mixed with an excess of nutrients can be a recipe for poor visibility on many waters. Algal blooms are now almost a yearly occurrence on some venues. But do they kill fly fishing completely?
Red flies are great for limited visibility or beating an algal bloom!
Not necessarily. Trout and other fish might have trouble finding your flies, but one huge help is to change your patterns for brighter options. Red and UV flash flies are brilliant to switch the odds back in your favour, in fact! Check out this post from our blog archives for some especially useful fly choices.
Don’t forget, algal blooms can also be toxic- so always pack some hand sanitizer and take care out there, especially if you stop to eat some lunch.
Human traffic and slow daytime sport
It can be a bit of a cruel irony that the most beautiful days of the year are hardest for fishing! As tempting as many waters look, the sun has a similar effect on fish as on us; both parties become lethargic! The other issue, of course, is increased footfall on so many of our rivers, especially when we are fly fishing in national parks and beauty spots.
An early start can beat the heat- and the crowds.
The most obvious solution here is to shift your clock! Getting up early is a great way to beat the crowds at those picnic spots. It’s amazing how good these locations can be – BEFORE the daytime hordes and dogs jump in. Meanwhile, if fish activity is rather poor in the daytime, a better option might be to take a break and come back later. On so many rivers, that dipping sun is like an on switch for fly hatches and trout feeding.
Extreme conditions and fish care
Last but not least, another issue in summer can be the increasingly extreme weather we find these days. Rivers and streams tend to offer cooler water, but in the highest temperatures, we should all be cautious and handle fish with extreme care.
Go for wet look pictures rather than “grip ‘n’ grin” when it’s very hot.
Fish like trout and grayling should leave the water as little as possible- so do pass on that “grip and grin” shot and photograph wet if you want a picture. Other species, especially pike, should be avoided altogether in July and August.
Another great tip here, however, is to broaden your fly fishing diet. Carp are especially exciting in the summer! They are extremely hardy in the heat compared to game fish, and provide some excellent sport whether you go for “bait” style flies or more natural patterns. Check out this recent video from Flyfishing for Coarse Fish author Dom Garnett: