Social media is abuzz with articles and tips to avoid overstressing trout during the hot summer months, and for good reason!

Once stream temps hit 65 degrees (and higher) the odds of killing a trout go up exponentially.  There are ways to combat this, such as going early in the morning or using heavier tippet to land fish fast, but at some point even those efforts are futile and it’s best to leave a favorite trout water alone.  The problem is, our urge to go fishing doesn’t quit just because it’s summer and targeting trout becomes unethical!  Finding ways to get your fix without overstressing fish can be a Rubix cube to solve, but there are some easy solutions out there for anglers who think outside of the box and don’t mind going after other species. 

Go After Panfish

While they’re gaining popularity, panfish are still relatively overlooked by fly anglers.  Heading out to a local farm pond and catching bluegill or crappie is a fantastic way to spend a summer evening with a fly rod. They might not be huge, but they’ll attack a popper and that action on the surface can be more than enough to scratch the fly fishing itch when trout streams are too warm.  As an added bonus, a mess of panfish makes for a delicious meal and there’s nothing better than a summertime fish fry of crappie and bluegill!

Target Bass

Bass certainly have a threshold for warm water as well, but it’s nowhere near the temperatures for trout.  Rivers and lakes can hold some lunker bass, and tangling with some smallmouth can make even the most devout trout anglers forget about the local stream that’s running low and hot.  They’re not always an easy fish to master, so the challenge of learning new waters and figuring out bass is well worth the time.  The style of fishing is also a welcome relief from throwing size 26 tricos and spooking trout by merely false casting a few times.  Tossing streamers or poppers and watching a chunky smallie destroy the fly isn’t the worst way to spend a summer day on the water!

Hike New Water

Backcountry fishing is one of the most enjoyable experiences in fly fishing.  The chance to get away from crowds and do some remote fishing is the best of what the sport has to offer, but even these streams get too warm in August and early September.  These streams are usually near a trail system, which can provide a fantastic opportunity during these tough trout months.  Going on a hike and exploring the water (without a rod) is the perfect way to get outdoors and be near a stream without stressing out the fish.  Bring a GPS and mark the biggest holes that are likely to hold the most fish.  Once water temperatures drop, you’ll have a treasure trove of new water on deck and ready for a more thorough exploration!

No self-respecting angler wants to impart undue harm on a trout stream.  An Instagram picture isn’t worth destroying a fishery, so many are faced with a choice during the summer months: continue hammering the trout or find another way to get the fly fishing fix.  Luckily there are other avenues to explore and incredible experiences await those willing to target panfish and bass, along with taking a hike on a new stream.  Summertime heat doesn’t have to mean the end of our fishing for a few months, but it does mean that anglers have to think outside the box and do what’s right for the fish.  Those who do this can be well-rewarded with a mess of crappie or a hard-fighting smallmouth memory!

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