Summer Alternatives For The Avid Angler

If you reside in the western United States, you already know. This summer is a HOT ONE!

Many anglers know that when trout rivers get too low and warm, the fishing can go south quickly. Fish aren’t feeding or are seemingly nowhere to be found. Trout are extremely stressed during these these hot temperatures. The additional stress of being caught by an angler greatly increases the likelihood that trout won’t survive after being released.

By keeping an eye on river temperatures and conditions, as well as, adjusting our fishing habits when needed, we can give trout a better chance of surviving these heat spells. Here are our summer alternatives for the avid angler. This does not mean that you need to stop fishing during the heat of the summer. There are still plenty of fish to be caught.

If you haven’t already, consider chasing the following fish during the “dog days” of summer in order to give your local trout streams a rest. I am confident in saying that you will be glad that you did.


There are a few factors that make Carp one of the most fun fish to chase during the hot summer months. Aside from being veracious eaters, Carp are a hearty fish and can survive in waters with very low clarity and O2 levels. These fish are extremely spooky, smart, and will test your casting and angling skills at every turn.

Since carp are big time eaters, they will grow quickly and can range from 5 – 30+ pounds depending on the fishery.  These fish are best chased with a 6wt to 8wt rod. Larger rods will have more backbone for casting heavier flies and will give you the ability to land bigger fish quickly.

Fly selection for Carp will vary based on fishery conditions. However, a good variety of damsel flies, crayfish, wooly buggers, and hopper flies will do the trick 9 times out of 10.


Like their golden yellow counterparts, the Carp, fly fishing for freshwater bass species can be one of the most fun things that you can do with a fly rod. They are extremely aggressive and territorial in nature. The fight that they produce when hooked make them a prefect alternative for chasing trout. Like Carp, Smallmouth & Largemouth bass are also geographically diverse and plentiful.

Bass do not grow to be nearly as large as carp. However, you still want a little bit larger rod in order to wrestle these fish out of the reeds and lillypads in which they reside. With that in mind, look to chase these fish with a 5-7wt fly rod with plenty of backbone.

To target Bass, you will want to carry a collection of both topwater and subsurface flies. Streamers that have alot of natural movement are particularly enticing to Bass. However, the most exciting aspect of fishing for bass is the topwater eat. They will eat things like Damsel Flies, Hoppers, and Poppers with nearly reckless abandon.

Bluegill & Sunfish: 

Pack up the 1wt, 2wt, or 3wt rod, and set out for an adventure chasing panfish on the fly. Bluegill and Sunfish are extremely territorial and aggressive. The Bluegill diet, is very much like that of a trout: pack your favorite  smaller (sz 16-20) mayflies, terrestrials, worms, and leeches. Since these are not breaking any records on the scales, tippet selection should remain fairly small in diameter, ideally in the range of 5X – 7X.

When looking for bluegill, make sure to target brushy, overgrown banks, and any water with depth changes. These fish are not extremely tough to catch in most cases. A well placed cast and a slow retrieve should yield rod bending results.

In Closing:

Chasing these fish as the summertime drags on can be ALOT of fun! Keep an open mind and try some new summer alternatives for the avid angler. The best part about fly fishing is the journey and exploration. So remember, never stop exploring and enjoy each day out on the water no matter what you are chasing.