Tips & Topics from Fly Shop Manager, Craig Amacker
The heat of summer is upon us and the fish have shifted into their summer patterns. A wetter than normal June has put the trout streams at good water levels and recharged the springs making for cool water temperatures and good flows for the rest of the season. When trout fishing during the heat of summer it’s best to fish early and late in the day because there’s less sun on the water making it cooler. I prefer to fish early-late morning because the water has had all night to cool down and there’s been minimal fishing pressure at best. Also, start fishing the upper stretches of streams this time of year because they tend to have cooler water temperatures and more active fish. On a fish safety note, if the stream temperature is above 65 degrees, please move to further upstream in search of cooler water to avoid overstressing and harming the fish.
Insect hatches are starting to taper off with tricos early in the morning, tiny blue wing olives in the evening and on overcast afternoons, a few evening caddis, and terrestrials are becoming the main surface activity from late morning to late afternoon. Nymph and streamer fishing is still good where it’s not too weedy. In weedy sections of the stream use a dry/dropper setup-a foam body terrestrial or bushy dry fly in size 14-16 with 12-18” of 5X tippet tied to the hook bend and a small bead head or unweighted nymph to the 5X. This is an effective way to fish the riffles and small pockets below the riffles-fast current=shade and cooler water temps-and cover a stretch of stream quickly.
On the warm waterfront, the smallmouth bass fishing on the Lower Wisconsin River has been on fire right now-they’re chasing baitfish on the sandbar drop-offs and in the riffles right now. This is an excellent mid-summer fishery that allows you to avoid tall grass and wild parsnip, gives you all the casting room on the planet, the fish eat all day, they aren’t picky, and it’s a great way to cool off. It’s also a combination of a big western river float trip and saltwater fly fishing experience with predatory fish exploding on baitfish that strike hard, and fight hard. Get yourself a good 6-8 weight rod, a Bass Bug taper fly line, and some baitfish patterns, poppers, and Crease flies to join in on the action. If the big river isn’t your thing, try the smallmouth streams in southwest Wisconsin such as the Platte and Grant rivers.
Mayflies: Chubby Trico #20-22, Baetis Sparkle Dun #20-22, BW Baetis #20-24, Baetis Spinner #24
Caddis: X-Caddis Tan #16, Craig’s Spring Creek Caddis Tan #16, Elk Hair Caddis Tan #16
Terrestrials: Hi-viz Foam Beetle, Tim’s Beetle, Bionic Ant, Morrish Hopper Green sz 14
Dry/Dropper: Morrish Hopper Black #14/Copper John Red #16-28, Stimulator Yellow #16/Pheasant Tail #18-20
Nymphs: CDC Pheasant Tail #18, Hot Belly Pheasant Tail Pink, Bead Head Caddis Pupah Tan #16, Hunchback Scud Olive/Orange, Craig’s Spring creek Scud Tan
Streamers: Leechinator #4-8, Squirrel Leech Olive, Bead Head Woolly Bugger #8-10, Rubberleg crystal Bugger Olive #8
Panfish: Craig’s Bluegill Buster Chartreuse, Black/white, White; Micro Popper Yellow and Chartruese
Bass: Mazo Minnow, Meat Wagon, UMP Baitfish Shad#2, Clouser Minnow Chart/Yellow #2, Murdich Slider, Swimming Baitfish, UMP Popper Froggy bottom and Mr. Minnow.