The 2017 summer in the NE, for the most part has been a very productive one for the trout angler. Decent water tables and stretches of cool spells have kept the water temps in a comfortable range for trouty friends. There’s a couple of easy things to keep in mind if you want to have a productive day on a trout stream during the summer heat, we’ll touch base on these in this post.
A couple of weeks ago I was fortune enough to get on the water with VT guide John DeMasi. He’s very knowledgeable on Vermont watersheds and what tactics to imply in order to fool some of these wily trout. We decided to explore the Black River on this particular morning. The Black is a dam controlled stream and major tributary of the Connecticut River watershed. It travels south from Black Pond in central VT picking up water from a couple of smaller brooks and traveling through a couple of bigger lakes all the way to the town of Springfield, quite a ways. Below the town of Ludlow is a popular stretch as it has been tagged by state of VT as a “Trophy Section”. I’ve seen license plates from Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and even New Jersey parked along the river while driving by, so it gets some pressure.
Starting out in the morning gave us a good head-start on the sun, which is definitely something to keep in mind when trout fishing in the summer. Obviously, if you’re a fish you don’t want to make yourself known to predators so, during peak hours in the daytime you’re not going to be exposing yourself as you might in the morning or evening hours. John and I started on a stretch that has a good amount of overhang and the sun doesn’t touch it very much throughout the day so, a good start.
Lately, I’ve delved deeply into the Euro-Nymphing game and on this day, I had two rods rigged up. One for Euro/Tight-line nymphing and one for dry/wet flies. With water being gin clear and the trout probably being cautious John and I went for the Euro rods. I thought this might be a good time to test out some newer designs. John rigged up with a couple of these flies and immediately was into a healthy fish. After a short fight, I netted for him a very nice 17” rainbow. For a stocked fish, it sure was pretty. A dark red gill plate with your typical olive speckled back, pink lateral stripe… just a very healthy-looking fish. Using the abundant shade to our advantage allowed for us to hook up with some of the locals.
After we exhausted this section, we headed back to the cars and went exploring. John took me to another spot which gets a lot of attention but, since he is very familiar with this watershed, he took me to a certain run that has some cold-water seeps coming up from the streambed and very appealing obstruction. Unfortunately, at this point in the day the sun was creeping over the mountain behind us and piercing through the foliage around us.
Things were heating up quickly.
The sun was at our backs at this point and trying to keep that in mind, I tried to keep a very low profile on the river. The combination of the trout laying on the bottom (giving it a wider range of vision) and the potential for our shadows to cast over likely fish lies makes for tricky presentation. However, this tactic can make or break a fishing trip. And it definitely made this one.
I knew that if there was a fish or two hanging around they’ve seen some flies before. I decided to start with most gaudy, trashy junk fly of all time… the Squirminator Jig (hey why not?). I’ve had some crazy experiences with this fly since it was forced upon me by a colleague who shall remain nameless… A quick pitch to the top of the riffle, rod tip held high and my suspension indicator seemingly levitating above the water I waited until the fly reached the most likely holding spot. I gave the fly a couple of twitches and immediately was into a really nice fish. I stood up and put the pressure on him and quickly forced him into my net. Another seemingly healthy rainbow, this time reaching the 18” mark. The Squirminator strikes again.
I truly believe that stealth and a mindful eye to the rising sun is what produced the goods on this particular morning. Euro/Tight line Nymphing techniques with super thin tippets probably wasn’t a bad choice either. This technique is quickly becoming my go-to when I rig up at the truck. With that being said, having another rod rigged for Dry/Wet fly fishing is never a bad thing either. You never know what the day will throw at you and you’ll always want to be prepared to hit that curve ball. To me, trout fishing under such conditions is like solving a puzzle, putting your methods into practice and watching them unfold in the manner you designed them for can be one of the most rewarding experiences.
Photo creds to John DeMasi!