Late AugustÖÖ..with few exceptions they are all very similar. You can bet that come the last few weeks of summer conditions will be very dry, high pressure blue skies will abound, and most streams around the region will be low and lacking in good character. If youíre an avid trout angler you see it almost every year. Add to that a rugged season of early mornings, hard work, and hot and heavy action and the late summer doldrums can take its toll on an anglerís enthusiasm. Generally speaking, late August thru the end of September is my least favorite time of year to trout fish and often times has spelled the end of my trout fishing campaign before long. For this year at least, that will not be the case as I feel Iíve left a few bench mark outings on the table and I am still hopeful of doing a few special things into the Fall yet. For that to happen though I will need better conditions than I was dealt on Saturday.
Weíd picked up close to 2Ē of rain on Wednesday but by the time the alarm shook me awake all of that water was either already in the Chesepeake or sucked up by this yearís amazing vegetation growth. Either way, streams were right back down to trickles in 48 hours and I, once again, had few to no normal stream choices. Much like many years around this time it was off to the low water haunts. As I rolled up to the stream in the pre-dawn hours I could see that once again I had dead clear skies to contend with and a cold front that had rolled in the night before. The combination of lower water, cold front, a and clear skies, are the most challenging trouting conditions you can ever find. Fishing immediately after a strong cold front can be brutal and I knew that I was in for a tussle if I wanted to catch a lot of fish. The creek wasnít going to give it up easy to me. With that I went to work with all I had. I waded quietly, carefully poking my spinner into every likely looking spot that I could located. In the low light of the morning sky the trout were quite cooperative and I was catching them at a more than acceptable clip.
And much like every week that I get to wade in decent flows Iím just grateful for the opportunity.
At around 8am I missed a major league brown that hit my spinner and tossed me about 5 seconds into the fight. Those are the moments that test me as an angler. I simply hate to lose big fish. I can lose tons of little fish and Iím fine but the big ones are hard earned so those hurt for a while. Thankfully the larger than normal native brook trout were at it again this week and it wasnít long until the wound was closed by a bunch of these guys.
And who could be upset when around every corner you have this setting to look at.
Iím not sure what this pale yellow to white flower is but it appeared to be some sort of Hydrangea species. It was everywhere and quite striking in contrast to the late summer drab green landscape.
This rainbow was also quite striking!
As the sun really started to beat down I entered a stretch of stream with marginal habitat at best and the action really slowed. Sometime on cloudy days the action keeps up the pace but when it is so crystal clear sunny itís as if there are no trout at all in this section. For over 30 minutes and probably a good half mile I only tackle a trout here and there. My destination was this pool where I hoped to find another large trout but when I finally got there and saw it baking in the sun and I knew I was unlikely to turn anything worth noting.
3 small brookies later and I knew it was time to head for home.
The cold front had really pushed in hard at that point and there as a very pleasant 8-10mph breeze meandering through the woods. Since I had fished for a while and knew I had a couple minutes yet to get back to my bike I decided to just grab a seat along the stream on an old log. I downed a drink and a granula bar and just generally enjoyed a 15 minute break from the hustle and bustle that is my normal trout fishing day. I spent a little time reflecting back on the bigger moments of the season and spent a little more time acknowledging that Fall is almost here and my trout fishing would soon wrap up for another year as visions of snow geese begin to dance through my head. The time goes so fast, itís nice to just sit down and soak it up a few times a summer.
I suspect Iíll still have enough water to fish in a couple places for the next few weeks but Iím no longer going to fight through these sunny days when there are so many other more productive things to do under those conditions. Going forward my trips will be reduced to about 2-3 hours until the sun gets high enough in the sky to slow the fishing down. Should I get a cloudy day in there, which are very few and far between this time of year, Iíll try and take a day off to make the most of it. With any luck some rain will fall and it will be back to business.