Summer is hot, busy and crowded. There is a lot of activity throughout the Valley so for many fishing is an afterthought. It is certainly a great time to be here for a range of activities. Years ago someone said to me that "you come here for the Winter and stay for the summer." In my case this is certainly true. I think the shorter growing season in comparison to lower altitudes contributes to the beauty and proliferation of color and growth in our area. The wildflowers are spectacular if you get high enough. The wildlife abounds although you have to get away to see a lot of it. Culturally a lot happens in the valley. There are certainly more cars in summer than in winter because more people appear to drive here in the summer than winter.
The summer fishing is popularly defined by the green drakes, although there are a lot of other options for the discerning fisherman. The rivers tend to be crowded both with boats and waders. In the long run, it means that more and more river will have limited access. We have our own limited access river on the Frying Pan. It is a debate which the community will have forever. The public interest vs. private property. On the one hand, we prefer less crowds and activity but then we are not comfortable with the diminution in business. On the other hand, good business means a lot of activity and pressure. In the UK, most of the good water is privately owned and impossible to get onto. If you do get access (described there as "a rod") it is strictly defined and limited. In Australia and New Zealand it is more accessible but the controls there are lax with little 'catch and release' which depletes the fishing stocks.
We have found that in limiting access to the river the quality of the fishing increased enormously. If fishermen keep wading through the same area all day, the fish have no chance to feed uninterrupted and it stresses them. By limiting access we have found that the quality and quantity of the fish has improved. So that is the debate. Still through the shop we try and regulate access but do not deny the public provided the river is not already in use and provided the traffic has been limited.
As the crowds abate in later summer, the fishing remains excellent. The river runs a little higher because of calls on the water for the squawfish and/or down stream agriculture. If you are a little unsure on your feet, check the flows and get some advice from the shop to make sure you can access the water and wade easily where it is wider and the pressure lessened.
The hatches continue longer in the colder released water. The freestone rivers begin to warm a little lower down. The Pan on the other hand retains its pristine condition. There are few tributaries or agricultural ditches to contribute any color. Later summer into Autumn is the favored time for some locals. It is not as hot, the colors are beginning to change and the river is less crowded. In addition although the fishing can be a challenge the fish are certainly at their strongest and most healthy having fed for months on all of those large summer hatches.
Fishing is good throughout the day and great in the evenings. The biggest consideration is pressure. However, as most anglers seem to leave the water in the afternoon, the evenings provide a great opportunity to enjoy the spinner fall and some of the later hatches.
The days will start with midges and a PMD hatch. The PMD's last maybe an hour. Then once the drakes are hatching they will last from midday through to about 3pm. In late July and August mid-river there will be a seratella hatch. In the afternoons there will be a few caddis and midges towards evening when for the last hour before dark it is midges, PMD's Caddis and higher up BWO's. The spinner fall will take you well into dark.
On cloudy and wet days, the mayfly hatches last much longer as it takes more time for them to dry their wings before they fly off. This makes them available to the trout for a longer time and so the fishing is even better.
On sunny days where there is intermittent cloud, the sun can burn the wings of the emerging mayfly creating cripples. Always carry cripple patterns as an option. They are underutilized. Look at the average fly box and there are probably only one or two cripples and if one is lucky, a couple of terrestrials amongst dozens of duns. As the fish will key into the more helpless insect rather than expending energy chasing a fast moving target, cripples, spinners and terrestrials are taken far more than fishermen consider. So take the time to investigate a range of patterns and take them along. Don't use them as an afterthought either when nothing else is working. Take the time to study the water and the surrounding area for clues as to what might be happening. Remember that the fishing pressure at the height of summer will spook the larger fish, make them more choosy and make them feed when they are more comfortable such as the evenings. Still, they have to feed and if the hatches are in the middle of the day, the hungry fish has no choice but to endure the intrusion of the angler.
The clear water also means that the fish can see your leader, so 7x becomes almost mandatory unless it is cloudy or the water is a little higher because of releases from Reudi. Correct presentation becomes exceedingly important. Watch carefully and you will see a trout swim alongside your drifting BWO or PMD for a good few feet inspecting it closely before refusing it. Any impediment to the most natural motion of a drifting fly will spook a feeding fish.
midges (size#18), from black to olive;