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Fly Fishing Column - August & Early SeptemberBy Bill Liscombe,
The heat of August and early September cause the low elevation lakes and streams to become too warm for trout, and the fish go to the bottom and sulk. Even if you manage to hook into a fish, often the fight is so lethargic that it leaves you wondering why you even bothered going fishing in the first place. Beating the summer doldrums takes a bit of knowledge and a lot of patience.
This time of year calls for high elevation lakes and streams, and deep water fly-fishing to be successful. Warm surface waters force the fish to go deep where the cooler temperatures are more tolerable for them, even if it offers them less feed, and the angler has to be ready to go down after them.
The best places to start are the higher altitude lakes, which remain cool throughout the summer months, and the trout continue to feed during the warm weather. Summertime usually signals the end of the insect hatches, and the only feed left for the trout is their ubiquitous fair of scuds and leeches, along with the occasional damselfly nymph and midge. Terrestrials sometimes end up in the fish's belly as well, but here again, this is usually restricted to the higher lakes where the fish are willing to come to the surface for something like an ant or a beetle.
Although the standard black leech patterns are a regular choice for prospecting year round, it is during these warm periods that this fly really shines. Marabou patterns like the Woolly Bugger, that incorporate swimmy materials, aid in enticing a slow, reluctant trout into striking and you have to be ready because the strike is a slow, sucking take instead of the usual fast, hard hit. These types of strikes require a sharp hook and a physical setting of the hook by the angler, because the take is too slow for the fish to hook itself.
Scud patterns work well during these slow times as well, and adding a little attraction to the fly like tying it out of sparkle chenille instead of the standard floss, wool, or chenille sometimes turns the tables in the fly fisher's favour.
Damselfly nymphs can be worked with success when fished deep, like a leech, but most often produce when the fish are in the lily pads actively feeding on a localized hatch. Use a slow sink or floating line, and a slow, steady hand-twist retrieve to best imitate the natural.
Other than fishing the right fly at the correct depth, you can also do a little research into the waters you intend to fish. Ask around and see if any of the lakes or streams are spring fed, or if there are any shallow lakes in the area. If there are any, you will be much better off there than in stream fed waters.
Springs, because of their underground source, feed cooler water into the system, and the fish will congregate near the area where the inlet is. Sometimes this timely phenomenon can be so pronounced that it is literally like "fish in a barrel", and once you find the inlet you can limit out in a very short time. The spring offers cool water, but the depth often offers little in the way of food. The cool water keeps the fish more active and any feed that swims their way is in imminent danger of losing its life, and this includes a well-presented fly.
Shallow beaver ponds and lakes don't avoid the warm water doldrums like spring fed waters do, but, being shallow, they allow the fly fisher to get the fly down to the fish all the time and the law of averages comes into play after awhile. If you keep your fly in front of the fish long enough, warm water or not, eventually one of them is going to give it a bite.
Warm water fishing isn't easy, and it quite often isn't very productive. But if you want to get out and relax, get a tan, and perhaps hook into a few fighting trout, summer fly-fishing may be just what you are looking for . . . and it sure beats mowing the lawn!
Bill Luscombe has been hunting and fishing for most of his 42 years. He has been flyfishing for 20 years. He instructs flyfishing, and has done so for the past 12 years. He also instructs the federal FSET firearms course and the BC CORE hunter training course. He is an award-winning outdoor writer and has been writing freelance since 1987. He has been published in BC Sport Fishing Magazine, Outdoor Edge, BC Outdoors, Western Sportsman, Island Fish Finder, and the BC Hunting Guide.
Bill Luscombe was born an army brat and raised in Ladner (Delta, BC) where he was raised hunting waterfowl and pheasants. He presently resides in North Cowichan on southern Vancouver Island where he has lived and worked full time as a professional forester since 1982.
He presently works in Nanaimo for the BC Forest Service and continue to write the fly-fishing column for BC Sport Fishing Magazine as well as contributing articles freelance to various outdoor magazines in western Canada. Bill Luscombe is also a BC Director of the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association.
"Catching fish is not hard. You simply need to understand what makes them tick. If you think like a fish, you will catch fish. It´s as simple as that."- Bill Luscombe