Our favorite trout fishing hole down in the Southern Tier of New York was once a crystal clear, frigid-flowing body of purity. But the spring runoff from the winter months was all but a distant memory. My fishing partner and I stared in to a weed-laden, stagnate pool just deep enough to get our calves wet just a few weeks before school started. Brown trout are well known for their ability to adapt to warmer water temperatures while other trout wilt like a leaf under the overcast fall sky, and these streams, although gross looking, still held a few fish. New York holds great trout fishing at certain times of year, especially when you head into the Adirondacks. Throughout the state the chase for trout in the late summer forces fishermen to face many of the same challenges late-season waterfowl hunters face – where to find water. With what water is left in some areas of the state, trout are still able to be caught, but it becomes much more of a high stakes poker match. Who will flinch first. Water takes on the optical clarity of a glass of Gin this time of year and anyone familiar with the fickleness of trout understands the challenge of simply not spooking fish with even your shadow. So to help you find your Rocky Mountain dreams here in the East during the late summer, I called upon old mountain fishermen friends for advice to find five tips on catching summer trout.
1) Tippet: Tippet was once described to me by a fly fishing guide in Wyoming as rope sticking out of a cheeseburger. “Think about it, attention must be given to your tippet in accordance with the water clarity. You wouldn't eat a cheeseburger with a rope sticking out of it, would you?” The obvious answer is no. I was recommended to tie on a 6X or 7X tippet. Bring your flip-down magnifier if you have bad eyesight. Aside from being darn near invisible, make sure to find a balance between a firm set and horsing a hook set. I’ve learned the hard way, losing more than a handful of flies to this light line, but found a bit of a rhythm by adapting to simply flicking my wrist versus a heavier and dramatic line strip.
2) The Shadows: Fish battle the heat like we do and seek shadows to stay cool where the water temperatures might be just a few degrees lower. Pretty simple, but find a stretch of overhanging trees. But be careful to sling your fly in low to avoid getting stuck in the branches. This is also a great ambush spot for fish to catch oncoming insects.
3) Indicator-less: During the early parts of fishing season, indicators are a beneficial tool for fly fishermen to use, especially with heavier currents in deeper water. During the late summer, I was advised to remove my indicator. Their presence spooks fish and the extra splash upon the water certainly doesn't help. Keep your fly rod up high and watch your line to feel for hits.
4) Flies: Matching the hatch is a given. It’s so cliche to talk about, I won’t. But what I will mention is to clean up your small flies before fishing. With nail clippers, remove any old tippet and work rust off by working fine sand paper over the rust.
5) Release: Fish are under incredible stress during the heat of the late summer. Fight small trout quickly in order to make a quick releases of fish so as to ensure their survival. Disregard this if you are not out after a healthy shore lunch. And keep an eye on water temperature; if it approaches and tops 70 and you don’t plan on keeping fish, it’s best to find another water and give the trout a break.
Trout are tough enough to catch for most of us to begin with. It is a true matching of wits. Late summer trout provide such incredible challenges, any angler willing to work hard can find reward tucked away in tiny pools away from crowds.