Fly Fishing Interior Lakes: The Summer Doldrums Edition
The dog days of summer are usually associated with prolonged hot, sunny, dry, warm weather that usually results in tough times on the interior lake fishing front… or maybe not!
Most seasoned stillwater anglers dream of ice-off action all winter long. They make the big push to fish through late April, May, June and early July before the summer temperatures rise and fishing slows. Don’t sell yourself short on what summertime interior trout fly fishing can offer.
Summer Fly Fishing Strategies
You’ve got to get down to them! This is the general theme for the summer months. While we will discuss some exceptions to this rule, fishing down and deep during the hot months is a pretty solid strategy as the fish prefer the deeper, cooler water.
The majority of the prominent bug hatches will have occurred during the cooler spring and early part of July, but we will still have dragonfly nymphs and leeches present in the lakes. These are an all-year staple food source for trout. Both patterns can be fished by casting and retrieving or a slow troll.
Dragonfly nymphs are typically found right down on the rug, so these are a natural choice to tie on to the end of our leader in the summer months. There are two different types of dragonflies we need to be imitating. The darner is a longer, more slender nymph than our other major player, the gomphus, which has a shorter, fatter body type.
Some important thoughts on selecting your fly patterns would be to look at patterns that have some buoyancy to them. Flies made with deer hair or foam will float up off the bottom, so even if your fly line is laying right on the bottom of the lake, your fly will be in the perfect zone.
Dragonfly nymphs are ferocious little predators that prey on other insects, invertebrates and even small fish. They can give a feeding trout a good little nip back, so the fish are going to be hitting your fly aggressively. Therefore, using a little heavier tippet is recommended.
Leeches are another focus at this time of year. Leeches are available all year round and are a very desirable meal for trout. Leeches come in a wide array of sizes and colours, from little micro-ones tied on size #16 hooks up to 3” long #6’s.
Leeches can be black, brown, different shades of olive, gray and burgundy, plus combinations of all the above-mentioned colours.
Things are going to get a little weird now; boobies and blobs, there we said it. These two patterns pretty much go right into left field in the sense of colourations and well, generally what trout should bite when one is trying to “match the hatch”.
Firstly, we will look at boobies. These flies originated in the UK and do they ever work! They have large foam barbell eyes on them making them buoyant. We fish these flies on a fast-sinking line and a short 3’-4’ leader. When the fly is stripped it will move and then when paused, the eyes make the fly pop up. This action makes it difficult for fish resist them.
Boobies come in all sorts of colour combos. There are bright colours such as orange, yellow, coral and combinations of those colours. Traditional “buggy”- coloured patterns such as black and olive are also productive.
We emphasize that YOU MUST PAY ATTENTION for the grab when fishing a boobie as the fish can sometimes take this fly deeply, so be sharp and be ready.
The blob fly… when you first look at them your initial thought might be “trout in the Interior eat these things?!?”. At first glance there’s a lot of validity to that question.
Once you learn what the concept behind the fly is, it does start to make a bit more sense. Zooplankton are a microorganism. They are so small to look at that you would likely struggle to see a single one.
Daphnia are one the most prolific zooplankton found in Interior trout lakes. Daphnia can congregate in a large clump, making them an easy meal for a hungry trout. Fish can just swoop up these balls with their mouths open and gorge themselves.
Blobs can be fished below a strike indicator (float for fly fishing) just like one would do with a chironomid. This is a productive method but our recommended method in the summer is to use a full-sinking line with a short leader. Measure your desired depth to fish the fly with the leader no longer than the depth of water being fished. Next, cast it out and allow the fly to hang suspended in the water and wait for the grab.
A couple of wildcards for the summer fishery would be the predominant hatch of large chironomids known as bombers that hatch in Tunkwa lake in August. Hitting this bomber hatch can lead to some very productive floating line chironomid fishing which is rarely seen at this time of year. Check out our chironomid fishing blog post here for more info on setting up for this fishing.
The other summertime wild card is to go dark. Night fishing can be super productive as the hot sun leaves the sky and temperatures drop. Trout can pop up into the shallows to feed.
The name of the game in this situation is to go big and get noticed. A large leech pattern in darker shades such as black or dark olive is the way to go. Do not ignore the shallows when applying these tactics. A floating line in shallow water can be the ticket.
For rods, your standard trout fly rods ranging from 4wt-6wt and a length of 9-10’ are what you would need. Popular choices would be the Sage Foundation, Redington Vice, Fenwick Aetos, Echo Stillwater and St. Croix Imperial.
Sinking Fly Lines
For fly lines, sinking has been the focus of this blog post. Popular choices are the RIO Premier Fathom, Scientific Anglers Sonar Stillwater, Scientific Anglers Frequency, RIO Mainstream and the Scientific Anglers WetCel. All these lines mentioned are available in all rod weights and a variety of sink rates.
During the summer months the faster sinking are a bit more desirable. We prefer type 5ips, 6ips or 7ips. Slower sinking lines will work but you’ll just have to wait longer for your fly to get into the deeper depths.
Floating Fly Lines
For floating fly lines for nighttime leeching, the RIO Grand Elite, RIO Grand Premier, RIO Mainstream, Scientific Anglers MPX Amplitude, Scientific Anglers MPX Mastery, Scientific Anglers Frequency Trout are all excellent line choices.
We sell a ton of all of these and have had great feedback on them. Seagaur fluorocarbon in the STS, Blue Label or Basix are the way to go. Fluorocarbon disappears more in the water than regular monofilament giving you an advantage, especially in clear water and bright sun.
Last but not least, when the weather is hot and sunny, make sure you take every precaution in these conditions by taking advantage of the great technical clothing with built-in sun protection.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post and that it has provided some beneficial information that leads to success on the water.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 604-931-5044 or stop by Sea-Run Fly & Tackle at #110-1140 Austin Avenue in Coquitlam BC.
Good luck on the water.
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