Trout Fishing The Low Warm Water of Summer

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Kevin Howell

Low, warm water is tough on trout and anglers.

Over the years I have been forced to fish for trout in some of the worst possible conditions, from high water, to days that the ice freezes instantly on your guides.  The absolute hardest fishing of all though is the low hot water of late summer.  Not only do the fish not want to feed but you have to worry about killing them when you hook them.

When water temperatures reach 70 degrees, it’s time to chase carp or bass.

The main thing to remember is that you as an angler have an ethical responsibility when trout fishing in low, warm water.  Use as large a tippet as you can, so you can land the fish as quickly as possible.  If you are struggling to land a fish, break it off, so that you don’t stress it and kill it.

Spend as much time reviving the fish as you spent landing, if you spent 10 minutes (which is way too long) landing it, then spend 10 minutes reviving it.  In low hot water you should not spend more than 1-2 minutes to land any fish, regardless of it size.  The other big issue in the summer is taking pictures; in this low hot water do not take the fish out of the water.  It is kind of like you running a half marathon and the very second you are done, someone holding your head under the water.

Here are some of my best summer tips:

Fish are reluctant to feed in times of warm water, or low water.  They are just trying to survive so you need to draw a reaction or impulse strike.  Your flies should have extra life added to them, rubber legs, soft hackles, Emu feather gills etc.  The more annoying the motion of the fly the better your chance of getting a reaction strike.

Trout will not move a great distance to feed in low, warm water; your presentations will have to be almost in a direct line with the fish.  This may require more sight fishing and/or multiple cast to the same area.

Be exceptionally careful of making waves in slow or shallow water. This will spook fish quicker than an errant cast.

Fish any decent flow of water; this is where the trout find oxygen and food in low water.  The better fish will lie directly under the fastest part of the flow where the most oxygen is located.  This requires that you fish flies that are weighted heavier than normal.  Your flies should sink to the bottom rapidly and stay there and tumble along like an injured our wounded piece of food.

Never under estimate the power of the terrestrial pattern and often times larger is better there are some large land born insects that get blown or knocked into the river or maybe it is how bugs commit suicide, irregardless of how it got there it is an easy meal.

Always take advantage of summer rains.  The rain provides a burst of cool refreshing water which will make the fish more active.  It also displaces more food that has been trapped by the rising water on the stream bank.  Trout will take this time to feed aggressively until the water starts to drop and warm back up.

Here are the top 10 summer low water patterns.

Tha Bug size 10-12

Hot Creek Special size 10-12

Inchworms size 8-14

Attract Ant Size 12-18

Fat Albert 6-14

Loco Beetle 10-16

G Neil Daniels 10-12

Soft hackle Pheasant tail 16-20

Barr’s Slump Buster 6-10

Clouser Foxxee Minnow 6-10


Kevin Howell
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “ Trout Fishing The Low Warm Water of Summer

  1. Another tip that will increase your catch and cause less stress: Fish the low light hours, if your regulations allow. Just before sunrise and late in the evening can be very productive. And don’t rule out night fishing on water you know well. Larger trout are highly nocturnal. Big flies, submerged patterns such as streamers or nymphs (tight lined or with day-glo yarn indicators), red headlamps and setting the hook at the sound of a strike are the rule.

  2. Pingback: Tippets: Tying Contest, 11-Year-Old Makes Casting History, Late Summer Strategies | MidCurrent

  3. Pingback: Summer is Coming | Fly Fishing | Gink and Gasoline | How to Fly Fish | Trout Fishing | Fly Tying | Fly Fishing Blog

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