It Pays To Be Sneaky On Small Streams
Published: May 29th, 2014
By: Josh Sheldon

It pays to be sneaky on small streams

By Josh Sheldon

Sun Outdoors Writer

Many that trout fish, only get out the first few weeks of season. I enjoy it all spring and into the summer because of a couple simple tricks.

As the water level in streams begins to subside and the lakes start to warm up, most abandon trout fishing for the year. I find that it is possible to catch trout from streams nearly year round, if you follow a few simple rules. You may have to do quite a bit of walking, but it can be well worth the effort. You will have to be careful and patient as to not spook the fish, which is pretty easy to do under low water conditions. If everything is done right, you could be going toe to tail, with the biggest trout of the year.

I have found that by mid-May, most have given up on trout fishing and moved on to ponds and lakes. Fishermen like myself recognize that great stream fishing can still be had if you follow a few simple rules. I have to admit, I only begun using this technique a few years back. Since then I have landed some of my biggest trout to date. I consider late season trout to be more like hunting than fishing in many ways. You have to be aware of many factors that don't exist in the early part of season if you want to be successful.

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Water temperature plays a major role in late spring to summer trout fishing. Trout are not able to handle warm water and can even die if temperatures exceed 60 degrees. You must first find a stream that is deep enough to keep the water cool, or put on the walking shoes and hunt for a spot on the stream where it is fed by an underground water source. Deeper streams tend to be cooler than shallow ones because of their obvious volume differences. This doesn't mean that the smaller streams no longer hold fish, but they will only be where the water is cool enough. By walking and scouting, you can identify where the fish will be holding up. The fish are typically found in deep pools, at the base of waterfalls, or where colder water is entering the stream. The deep spots tend to stay cooler and offer enough water to help the fish survive. If you can find where a spring feeds the stream, you are likely to find fish. Anyone that has a well knows that you have cold water year round. Water that originates under ground is much cooler than surface runoff. You can use a simple method to determine if the water entering the stream is run off or spring fed. Use a thermometer and measure the stream temperature, then test the water entering the stream. If the water is equal to the stream, it is likely runoff, but if it is cooler you have struck gold. The fish will be near the in flowing cooler water for sure, focus your efforts here rather than the rest of the stream.

I find cooler places on a stream by walking, sometimes several miles must be covered to find a good spot. I also find that the further you go from where everyone and their brother have been fishing, the better you're chances will be at catching some trout. Don't be scared to pack a lunch and make a day of it. It may take several hours before you locate a favorable fishing location. Don't expect the hole you had good luck on last year, to produce this year. Streams change with every flood and can ruin or create a new hole in days. This is why walking is so essential when seeking low water fish.

I caught the trout pictured last week and had a buddy comment on a Facebook post, about my camouflage clothing. He said in a joking way, that the clothes I was wearing must have helped. In fact that's exactly what I attribute the catch to. I have seen trout dart under rocks when approaching them in normal clothing. I recommend using the least amount of weight on your line as possible, if you’re using spinning tackle. I do this to reduce the amount of disturbance created on the waters surface. While a delicate splash into the water may attract fish, a heavy splash can spook them. I use a stealth approach now, sometimes crawling up to the hole and lightly dropping a line in. I also use a fly rod and cast as far as possible, to create some distance between myself and the fish. I try to walk as lightly as possible and sneak in as to not be detected. Try this approach on a nearby stream and you will likely find as I have, that trout can be caught all spring and summer. Good wishes and remember to be a trout ninja as the water level drops and it begins to warm up.