Targeting other species on fly
When the first real hot days of summer begin to warm up freestone trout rivers and streams, many trout anglers tend to put the trout equipment away until early fall, or concentrate on tailwater fisheries that offer cool water temps. Although the weather is hot, there are still some fun opportunities to put your trout equipment, flies, and fishing tactics to the test on other species. Not all rivers and streams are great year-round habitat for trout, but nearly every bit of flowing water supports an ecosystem with species you can target on trout equipment. Try this strategy to catch a mixed bag of wild fish that inhabit the water downstream of good quality trout fishing.
Pick out a nearby river, and scan a length of it with using aerial satellite imagery (Google Earth). It’s easy to see where the water flows deep and slow, and where the current flows faster. Generally, streams downstream of trout populations have slower gradients and less defined current. This situation actually benefits the angler, because any current area surrounded by sections of slower water creates a significant feeding station for many species. Pick out a section of powerful current leading into a long, slow stretch of water, and you can bet there will be good fishing.
Although the water might be too warm for trout, you will notice that most of the same insects and food sources that live near current in trout water will be prevalent – mayflies, caddis, stoneflies. Other food sources less common in typical trout water will be more common in the marginal water – particularly crayfish, leeches, hellgrammites, and craneflies. Keep in mind that these waters and species don’t receive the type of fishing pressure that drives selectivity, so it doesn’t take the most accurate flies or the best drifts to tempt these fish. That being said, marginal water fish can be surprisingly intelligent, and having good imitations of the food sources that these fish eat will always make it easier to catch them.
Choose larger food items and drift them naturally with the current where the faster water spills into the slower and deeper water. Often these areas can be fished from shore without waders if the angler is strategic about selecting the location. Keep in mind that the bigger and slower the water, the more critical it becomes to select a good feeding station that will concentrate fish to target your efforts. Depending on the river, you might find yourself attached to a fallfish, smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, largemouth bass, rock bass. All these species can put up a considerable fight on trout equipment, and it’s definitely a fun way to expand your horizons while keeping your skills tuned.