Spring has come and gone and with it the major hatches and shallow water bass. We are now shifting into the summer weather patterns and the fishing that comes with it. The best fishing tends to occur during low water periods and rainy days. The days following major rain events in the summer can lead to slower days fishing. Look for the foam bite to slow after the next week of hot weather. In fact, conditions look tough until we get through this heat wave. When night time temps in the Grayling area start to dip into the low 60’s or 50’s, the trout bite will pick up. Until then the best options will be deep water smallmouth bass in deep clear lakes and top water on smaller lakes for largemouth bass and pike. The bass fishing will pick up as the hex hatch winds down on the lakes.
Summer trout fishing tactics vary from river to river in the state. Many of the places I choose to guide will provide better fishing with streamers than dry flies. Summer streamer fishing can be a lot of fun, it’s one of my favorite ways to guide. It’s not necessarily about catching the biggest fish in the river, it’s more of a numbers game, but the top end size is larger than I typically see on dry flies. I find the key to successful streamer fishing in the summer, and all times of year frankly, is matching the size of fly to the size of the water. In summer, or other low water periods, I typically fish flies from 1.5 inches up to about 5 inches in larger rivers. I tend to put the 8 inchers away until fall, of the next major rain event. Minnow patterns tend to be the best in the summer as the brook and brown trout from last years spawn are now mostly in the 2 to 3 inch range. Standard patterns such as zoo cougars, woolly sculpins, spruce flies, clouser minnows and sparkle minnows will all put fish in the boat.
One thing that has made this type of summer streamer fishing easier for my clients have been the use of some of the new RIO sink tips. I typically used a 150 or 200 grain DC sinktip which worked well for more advanced fisherman. The DC’s are an easy casting line but it sinks very quickly which is great in deep water but in shallow water it was a little too much. I’ve been using the RIO InTouch Big Nasty 4D sink tips. They are a set of lines that vary in sink rate by using dirrernt sink rates in different sections of the line. The 4D is a blend of 4 different densities of lines that provide a very smooth transition in the cast. They are available in two combinations, F/I/S3/S5 (which is a floating section, intermediate section, type 3 sink section and type 5 sink section) which I use on unweighted flies. And a F/H/I/S3 (which is a floating, Hover, 1ips sink rate, intermediate, type 3 sink) which i like with lightly weighted flies, about a medium cone on my 6 weight. Using these lines in smaller and shallower rivers in addition to the 150 and 200 grain DC lines in faster or deeper rivers, I’m covered.
Sink tips are not cheap but different lines fit for different situations. By experimenting with different lines and different weights on flies you can find a perfect balance for each type of water you will encounter. I think we as fly fisherman overlook this frequently. Imagine a bass boat with a single rod and reel for a full day of fishing. At a minimum I will have 3 rods rigged with different lines and types of flies so that I can fish different structure with a good presentation. If you are fishing over 2 foot of water and shallow wood the 200 with a weighted fly is too much but a light sink tip with an unweighted fly will hover and fish the area much more effectively. When you do this, you will start to see fish in areas you haven’t before because of poor presentation.
Don’t think that just because we are post hatch season these fish are only available at night. There is plenty of opportunity for good trout from here though the of the season. Pay attention to the water temps as that is what slows our summer fishing to a dead stop. As cool nights return, look for the fish to be hungry and willing to play. During the heat I’ll be looking for bass and hoping to dump the occasional musky in the boat.