The Heat of Summer is Almost Gone

By Karl Ekberg

The unofficial end of summer comes with the arrival of Labor Day weekend. The kickoff to college, high school, and professional football, seems to create the big excitement of conversation, as every team starts the season with championship dreams. Trout fishing in the lower elevation streams and rivers, are like teams starting fall practice, not quite ready for a game or to be fished until the water temperatures drop. This is the preseason to Delayed Harvest—tune ups for equipment, end of summer vacations, tying flies, and purchases of new equipment and getting ready for the “championship trips” to the rivers during the Fall fishing season.

As the heat of the summer passes by the streams and rivers start to cool down and the trout become a bit more active throughout the river instead of seeking thermal refuge in the depths of the river bottoms. Early mornings tend to be the most opportunistic times to fish, prior to the heat of the day warming the waters and the fish returning to the depths. Fish can be very wary at times, with gin clear water conditions, low river flows and heights and minimal hatching bugs. Longer leaders and smaller diameter tippet sizes can lead to a great day. Longer casts with drag free drifts will be an essential asset as well to these wary and skittish fish.

As we look forward to the cooler temperatures of the fall season, we will start to see the emergence of the first of the “fall bugs”. The rocks in the rivers are loaded with very small dark nymphs as well. Try swinging the larger emerger imitations or a heavy nymph with a smaller nymph dropper, through the riffle areas of the river and into the heads of the pools. As daytime temperatures heat up, the fish will move further into the depths of the rivers, so getting a bit deeper with a heavier front fly or a pinch of split shot will help greatly. Baitfish are abundant in the watershed, and the streamer bite will be quite rewarding. Try swinging and retrieving small bait fish patterns in the deeper pockets, back eddies, and off of the seam lines throughout the watershed.

While waiting on the fall water temperatures to kick in, the fall bass and panfish season is underway. These eager fish are awaiting meals to drop from the riverside foliage, wet wading is still in gear, and there is no better way to cool off from some late summer or early fall heat, than casting some top water terrestrials and poppers to these awaiting fish.

A guided trip, fly tying lesson, or new gear can be a great tune up for the upcoming fall fishing season, all of which can be found through our shop. Let’s all remember while we are enjoying the great outdoors, let’s “Leave No Trace”, and it does not hurt any of us to bring out a little more than we walked in with. We hope to see everyone out on the water.

Karl and Karen Ekberg are co-owners of Chattooga River Fly Shop, located at 6832-A Highlands Hwy, Mountain Rest, SC 29664. Give them a call at (864) 638-2806 and visit their website at