Welcome to the WOOF! dog days of summer. Why are these the dog days? Maybe it is if we were smart dogs, we'd be low to the ground in the shade and COOL! Truth is, I can sweat with the best of 'em, but I can find fish even in this weather. So can you.

How has this heat effected your fishing plans? Most fly fishers hang it up during these hot periods. A very few get out there and find worlds of fish.

The past 5 years, I have followed a simple plan that can have you on the water when others wouldn't dare be there, and you'll catch lots of fish. Yes, this plan will work for you even in the dog days of summer when the assumption in most fly fishing circles is that fishing is slow.

First, have the right clothing. Midday temperatures can reach 100° F on the water in bright sun. The right clothes means light, UV protectant, water wicking clothing that dries quickly. Your clothing should be well ventilated. Always have a big "flats hat" to wear to cover your head and ears. Keep sun block with SPF rating of at least 30 handy. Wear light colored long sleeve shirts with vents to let your body heat escape readily.

Always carry an ample supply of chilled water. It is imperative that you have a means to get rid of body heat, and perspiring is that way. Water is THE best cooling agent. Next wrap around polarized dark glasses will keep harmful glare from debilitating your eyes, and they make it possible to spot fish in clear, midday illuminated water. Wrap around glasses or standard glasses with Orvis moldable side shields will cut the huge amount of glare from reflected sunlight that comes in around the outside edges of your glasses and tires your eyes.

Now that you are properly equipped, head out in the middle of the day to your favorite waters! I'm serious. Year 'round I fish during the week and during the middle of the day. I know that you've always heard "fish early and late", especially in the summer in the south, but the fish don't follow that rule. How do I know? I have been out there fishing in temperatures up to 105°F on summer mid days, and have had some of my absolute best catches ever! There weren't many other fishermen around -- just fish.

How can this be true? The fish we pursue in our immediate area including largemouth black bass, smallmouth bass, shoal bass, redeye bass, bluegills, redbreast sunfish, redear sunfish (shellcrackers) green sunfish, crappies, yellow perch, even trout can be found readily in high sun midday conditions. Don't the fish stay out of high sun conditions because the bright light hurts their eyes? -- NO! They stay in the shadows and lurk where they blend in for protection and predation. They can hide better from bigger predators, and as predators take prey as it moves near them. You won't find these fish until you understand their game plan. Once you understand, you'll know where to look.

In interviews with Doug Hannon, the "bass professor" seen regularly on ESPN, Doug has absolutely proven that the overwhelmingly greatest number of trophy sized largemouth black bass in Florida were caught between the hours of 10AM and 2PM, the high sun periods. This flies in the face of the fish "early and late" philosophy that you will often hear. How can this happen? High sun periods are the times of peak activity by the bass' major forage foods.

I was an avid cave diver for 10 years during my college and post college days. I was amazed at the detail I could see when staying back in the shadows of the daylight zone of an underwater cave looking into highly lighted water. It was like a brilliant theatre stage -- highly lighted. Have you ever been in deep shade and looked into highly lighted midday sun drenched water? You can see every tiny detail of plants, fish, small organisms, and movement in that water. Visibility is amazing. So it is for those fish "hiding" under the dock. If you drop a fly near that dock -- zoom -- an aggressive fish will charge out and smack that fly. Others will follow to get in on the action. You can see it all. Fish stay in shady areas, under logs, suspending in any kind of item in the water that produces a spot to blend in. It is good camouflage. To hide from predators and to hide waiting for prey, this system works.

There are the obvious places like wooden docks with algaes growing on them. In high sun periods, in most cases you'll find bluegills or mixed sunfishes assembled under these docks in the shade. There is security and the food chain is fully growing on and around these structures. Literally every spot with a log, a piece of brush, and old tire, a spot under an overhanging tree or bush, any shade will attract fish. A ditch or small channel will hold fish suspending in lower light levels. All of these should be probed for feeding fish. In streams wood is fine, and fish will hide in grasses, plus under individual rocks and ledges.

In some fisheries small insects found on surface are the major forage during this midday period, but not in most cases. In some fisheries where I'd expect very aggressive surface feeding on size-14 sponge water spiders, I find that size-14 suspending nymph imitations get hammered by the fish just below the surface. There is a particular fishery where I fish water less than four feet deep. Most of the time my size-14 to size-12 suspending nymph is THE best performing fly. Occasionally the predominant fish species will hit aggressively on top, but most of the time the action is subsurface. In this water stealth is VERY important. You have to probe the water to find out what the fish want. If you'll do that the fish will tell you what they want -- just listen!

In one water system that I regularly fish, there is a lone large log across a small ditch. It isn't obvious. The ditch is only two feet across and only a foot deeper than the surrounding water. To my amazement, I have cast to and caught and released as many as ten fish of up to 4 species from the shade and security of that single log! I made 15 casts to every fish hiding spot of that log: the main trunk, branches, forks between branches. They all held fish. Most fly fishers make the mistake of catching one fish and moving to the next spot.

In the shade of one small tree, I have found as many as 30 fish stacked up out of the midday sun. Careful casts from the outside to the inside of the pod meant that I caught and released most of the fish gathered there. In both cases mentioned above I caught those fish on my size-14 suspending numph pattern. In deeper water, I quickly switch to my size-12 or -10 weighted streamers.

Trout often will be lurking deep in a pool, viewing upstream for anything that swims by. A size 12 streamer cast upstream, and dead drifted into this deep pool will often elicit strikes. Another tactic is to dead drift a small streamer into the pool, let it swing toward the back of the pool, then strip it cross pool as though it is trying to swim to cover. The image left has everything - boulders, deep shade - probe all carefully with a size-12 black, olive or crayfish streamer.

In areas with boulders lying cross tream, present a size-10 or -12 streamer so that it swings downstream and tumbles on the gravel stream bed into the hydro cushion in front of these rocks. Many times trout will nail that fly while tumbling on the stream bed. Another presentation is to tumble the fly into position just upstream of the rock and strip it across stream.

When you find those deep narrow undercuts where the current is too strong for your typical beadhead nymph to swing through and get deep, tie on a size-12 streamer. Cast it just upstream of the spot and swing it through the shaded deepest spot. If that doesn't get a strike, swing it into that deep spot and strip it out fast. Many times, that will trigger a strike.

So when hot summer conditions would keep you off the water, experiment. Be THE fly fisher on the water and catch fish. Try using these tips on your favorite water and let me know how you do.

There are many other articles on this website to give you insight into flies and methods for probing for summertime fish.


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