Trout fishing during the dog days of summer
It’s been raining steadily for a couple of days now, but late July and August are traditionally tough months for trout fishermen.Streams and rivers are low, water temperatures are high, and any sensible trout finds someplace cool and safe to hang out — under a rock or an undercut bank. An angler could spend eight hours on the water on a sunny August day between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., change flies two dozen times, make a couple thousand casts and still catch nothing but an attitude.There are ways to deal with this.The first is to fish insanely early in the morning. How early? How about 5 a.m.?At that hour you can see where you’re going (always a plus). The water temperature is as cool as it’s going to be, and the trout will be out of their hammocks and shade trees.The drawback is getting up early enough to be on the water at 5 a.m. I don’t know about other guys, but it takes me a full hour to get moving in the morning.The alarm. The groan. The belated realization that I forgot to set up the coffee maker. The coffee. Missing the garbage can with the old grinds. The whisk broom. Finding pants. Dropping things in the bathroom. The trip to the river. The coffee spilled in lap. The morning cigar. The flat tire. I need at least an hour for all that action.Method number two is to fish from 8 p.m. to whenever it gets too dark to see anything. This time of year that’s about 9 p.m. A lot of streams will feature a quick and intense hatch as temperatures drop and direct sunlight is off the water. The quick and intense hatch will often be a perfect match for the flies in the box I left in the car, which means I put on something big and obnoxious, like a white Wulff or a Barney Frank. Something I can see in the failing light.This second method is good up to a point. That point is when you take a tumble trying to get out of a river full of slippery rocks or get tangled up walking through dark, dense woods with a 9-foot stick with string attached to it. In shorts, just in case the mosquitoes are still hungry.Method number three is to fish for something else. In the Housatonic, that would be smallmouth bass. They don’t mind the warmer water.I fish in lakes for largemouth bass, as well as bluegills, pickerel and perch, from a pontoon boat in the summer. It’s very relaxing and doesn’t strain the intellect, because the largemouth bass is a very accommodating fish. It will attempt to eat almost anything once.I generally carry two rods, both rigged for eight-weight line. One has a sinking tip — with a heavy streamer and possibly augmented by a piece of split shot, it works for slow trolling.The other has a floating line, for big dry flies and terrestrials, and bass poppers.No need to get fancy here — the popper assortments sold in packs of six at big box stores work just fine.But your local fly shop will also have some alluring streamers — even salt water versions — which can tempt the wily lunker when nothing else will.I save my old trout leaders for bass fishing. When they get down to 3 feet of butt, I attach a 3- to 5-foot section of hearty tippet material (0X to 2X) and voila — instant bass leader.