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Secrets of Late Summer and Early Fall Trout Fly Fishing


Gene Macri

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Successful late summer and early fall fishing involves a different approach for trout fly fishing. The best patterns include terrestrials and smaller nymphs but this won't help you if you don't understand what's going on in your streams. First understand the difference between a spring creek and a freestone streams. In a spring creek summer trout may feed at any time because of the constant water temperature. In a freestone stream it's a Terrestrial Beetle from Secrets of Summer Trout Fly Fishing at www.flyfisher.comcomplex interaction between the water temperature and the environment.

In some freestone streams that get too warm the trout will immediately move upstream seeking colder waters in the form of tribs or springs entering the stream some which may not show up but enter in stream. Water temperature is the most important factor when fishing freestone streams in the summer.  Also, remember that trout are acclimated differently to temperature in which they live in. So one stream may find trout feeding at 67f while another stream may have them feeding as high as 69f.

Trout won't feed much in extremely warm water. So if you don't have a proper temperature regime for a couple of days the fish won't be on the feed. It may take two or three cool nights to get the water temps to a point where the fish will be feeding. And the fish may only feed for a short period of time in a freestone stream. Remember it's whether the stream is rising or falling to the optimum temperature range in that stream for those trout that will cause feeding.

In freestone stream trout will feed very early in the morning 4:00 a.m. to 7:00 .am. on most waters for a short period of time. On some water they will also feed from around 12:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. in my experiences. So what can you use to catch the fish? As fall approaches the water temps will change the behavior of the trout but many streams because they are so low at this time will have wide fluctuations in  the stream temperature because the low depth of the waters warm and cool quickly.

Summer  and Fall Trout Flies

The best flies for late summer and fall  trout are terrestrials and small nymphs (with this exception).  Why? Because that's usually what's active at this time of the year.  There are exceptions with a few hatches with larger flies but they are the exception.  Ants and Beetles are your best bet for summer fishing on both freestone and spring creeks for most of the summer.  There are lots of different kinds and they get on the water in variety of ways.  This is especially true in a woodland stream where there are always a lot ants and beetles

Terrestrials Red Ant From Fly Fishing for Summer Trout at

For pattern size you should have your boxes stocked with a variety of sizes from 8 to 18.  Use  foam, fur, and deerhair ants and beetles.  Because some days the fish will actually be selective to the type rather than color. I like ants in black, brown, cinnamon and orange.  Beetles should be in a variety of colors. 

Nymphs can be small fur patterns in sizes 16 to 22.  These are usually general color patterns although small sulfur nymphs and blue winged olives. Any dark brownish olive nymph should work especially if ribbed with some fine copper wire.  

Fishing for Late Summer and Fall Trout

The first mistake most fly anglers make in the summer is thinking they can fish like they did in the spring.  'Wrong! You must find your fish and make the proper cast. You don't have much room for mistakes because the fish will be exceptionally spooky especially in a freestone stream.  Spring creek trout are always wary but freestone trout in the summer are usually in very low conditions of water.  Look for a pod of trout which will occur in certain sections of a stream. The fish will actually gang up in areas on many streams. They will take an ant or beetle or small nymph because they are use to see them. Play your fish quickly because you can stress summer and fall trout even in cooler waters.

These are the best techniques for the early morning fish.  What about evening fishing!  Find an area you know where they will be or spot them ahead of time.  Throw a large beetle or large ant is your best bet in my fishing experience.  You might be surprised at what you may catch.  There are some large fish even in freestone streams and a big beetle or ant will take them! 



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