Summer Heat

August 2, 2016

The heat of the summer is upon us and MFO season (Mandatory Family Outing) is now in full swing. It’s been great weather for reunions, family picnics and outing.
Water temperature in the ponds has climbed. Trout have retreated to spring holes where 55 degree ground water enters. A spring hole may not be any bigger than a foundation of a house. Stick a thermometer in the surface and you’ll find 72-76 degree water extending all the way to the bottom. Find the spring hole and you’ll find a bubble of 55-60 degree water that only extends from the bottom to 4 feet above the bottom. Find that water and you’ll find all the entire population of trout waiting out the heat of summer. I once helped a with a small study looking to find out if spring hole trout ventured out into the warm water in search of food. We caught 3, 16-18” trout and attached transmitters to each one. As soon as each one was released it promptly returned to the spring hole. During the following week the only movement that took place was movement from the spring hole where they were caught to a second spring hole about 50 yards away.
Find a spring hole and you’ve found the mother load. We always anchor the canoe on both ends so the boat doesn’t swing. We use a full sinking line and make long casts over the spring hole then wait until we think the line is near the bottom then retrieve a nymph slowly. When you finally drag bottom you’ll come up with a bit of green moss that likes to grow on the bottom of the cooler water. When you get so you’re pulling your bug about 2 feet above bottom you should begin seeing results. Catch one and you’ll likely find plenty more in that neighborhood. We always catch some of the biggest trout of the season during the heat of summer when all the fish are in a very small area waiting out the heat. When cooler nights of fall begin and water temperature falls back into the low 60’s fish leave the spring holes in search of a square meal.
The heat of summer always has it effects on our rivers. Fish begin exiting the East Outlet by way of the fish ladder at the dam. Not all fish exit but numbers definitely fall off. Time of day becomes more critical for success. Early morning and late evening become more productive than mid-day when fish become difficult to fool.
This time of season there are always more fish in the upper river than down below.
The water is cooler on the Moosehead end of the river than the Indian Pond end.
Big golden stoneflies are hatching hard these days so we like chucking those big bugs. We’ll often use a bead head nymph as a dropper about two feet behind the dry. Fish will spot the dry then often grab the nymph hanging below.
It’s a good time of season to head for the West Branch below Rip Dam. Fish have migrated up from the lower river. The water is cooler because of the powerhouse.
The upper river will remain very productive all of August.
Cloudy days are better than bright sun. Mornings and evening are better than mid-day. Yesterday we had a hard morning, which this time of season means it’s going to be a slow day. When we had lunch the sun went away and the guys caught salmon and trout on top all afternoon.
Here is a link to a video we did a while ago of our local biologists tending the fish ladder on the East Outlet. Every few years they have a hard look at the health of the East Outlet fishery. They tell me everything this year is right in line with previous studies.
The photo above is of a long time customer Martha who caught this 19” salmon on the East Outlet two days ago. There are still some beauties hanging out in the river.
Have a great vacation and remember to support your local fly shop.