By: Levi Opsatnic
Unless you’ve spent the month or so few weeks inside of an air conditioned building, then I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s hot outside–really, really hot. And if you’re as avid of a fly fisher as I am, then it (hopefully) means that you’ve given the trout in Pennsylvania a much-needed break. I’m sure that we’ve all heard that most trout enter a survival mode once the water temperature reaches seventy degrees; as a reference point, I recorded a temperature of 75 degrees on Penns Creek just a few days ago. During hot, dry times like this, it’s simply unsportsmanlike to fish for trout. Sure, you may catch a few and they may swim away, but just because a fish swims away doesn’t mean that it will survive the next day or so.
Of course, whenever you’ve really been bitten by the fly fishing bug, it’s difficult to remove yourself from fly fishing. So what do you do whenever the trout streams are just too darn hot? Well, I’ve compiled a short list of trout-fishing-alternatives that are sure to keep you busy until the weather changes.
1. Three words: warmwater fly fishing. State College is lucky to be nestled around some pretty awesome lakes. These lakes hold everything from hefty largemouth bass to aggressive bluegill and pickerel. Sure, these fish may not be as esteemed as trout, but they sure are fun. Take the two-weight rod and a handful of poppers to your local pond and you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time. And if you’re after big fish, bring the seven or eight weight rod and chuck meat at largemouth bass and other big warmwater species. Not only is this a good time, but it will also work to improve your streamer skills for the fall trout season.
2. Tie flies. Whether you’ve tied your entire life or are just getting into, there’s never such thing as too much time spent at the vise. Having spare time at the tying desk allows you stray outside of your comfort zone of patterns and explore your bounty of materials. These are the times whenever things can get a bit weird without any repercussions. Tie a Clouser out of squirrel strips; work on perfecting your dubbing application with six different colors on one hook; tie a musky fly that’s larger than your forearm. It doesn’t matter how you choose to spend your time at the vise during these times, it’s just good to hone your skills for those times where you need two dozen Light Cahills for an upcoming trip.
3. Work on your cast. Take a few feet of string and a couple of your favorite rods to an empty grass field and go crazy. Use the string to form circular targets and vary their distance. Like anything else, perfecting your cast takes practice, and what better time to practice than whenever your favorite streams just aren’t fishable? After a few trips out, I’m sure that you’ll notice a difference in things like your distance and accuracy. Surely, those are two attributes that all fly fisherman can benefit from.
4. Read a book. Fly fishing is one of those things where even if you’ve spent your entire life doing it, there’s always something new to learn. So sit back, choose a book on anything from entomology to saltwater fly fishing, and see what you can learn.
5. Take a hike. Of course nothing really compares to the tug of a strong fish, but don’t most of us go fly fishing to enjoy the outdoors? Hiking offers the same principle of “outdoorsyness” and usually puts you in an area that’s filled with rich, natural sights. And who knows, maybe you’ll find your new favorite brookie stream while enjoying Mother Nature while your fly rod rests at home.
Hopefully this list gets your mind going and lets you enjoy other aspects of the sport without causing our precious trout any harm. And if you have another suggestion to keep us avid fly anglers from going stir crazy during the hot months, feel free to put it in our comments section.