Spend a summer fishing, and you’ll spend a summer making memories.
All too often summer tends to creep right by and turn into fall before we even have time to sit back and enjoy the sunshine.
As the days get longer, they also tend to get busier, forcing us to push off the things we really wish we were doing for the things we are forced to do instead.
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While there is still plenty of time left before frost is back on the ground, break out of the traditional summer patterns and try something different. All over the United States, fishing opportunities are abundant if you only know where to look.
Recently, I broke out of my normal early summer routine of tracking down bass and bedding bluegills to make a trip to the Elk River in West Virginia. What I found was a trout fishing bonanza that I only knew existed by the pictures of others on Instagram.
It all started by a phone call. A good friend of mine called me on a Sunday night asking what I knew about a sulfur hatch on the Elk River in West Virginia. Honestly, I didn’t know anything about it at all, but as I listened to him telling me about the hatch, I quickly pulled up my laptop and started checking it out for myself.
What I found, just like my buddy was telling me, was that people travel from all over the country to fish a small section of West Virginia where this one bug hatches in the evenings and trout go crazy. Photo’s filled the pages of Instagram, Twitter, trout websites, and all other forms of social media showing past year’s adventures of others enjoying this early summer pattern.
I love fly fishing. However, I am also from Indiana, so therefore trout have always just seemed somewhat of a glorified creek chub to me. I have caught several trout in the past out in Colorado and Wyoming when I was child, and even a few more recently than that, but trout just never really turned my gears like other fish.
After a few long minutes of arm twisting, I eventually asked my wife permission to make the trip to West Virginia with my buddy to see what it was all about for ourselves.
We hadn’t seen each other in quite a while since we both live in different states and a weekend away fishing would have been good for the both of us, even if it was for trout. My wife, like normal, had no problem at all with me going. I wanted her to go with me but camping out and fishing all day just isn’t what she considers a weekend get-a-way.
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The trout fishing that weekend was absolutely fantastic. We hooked up with big browns in the mornings through the afternoons on large flashy streamers. We crushed rainbows and more browns on nymphs and emergers as the afternoons transitioned to evening.
When the evenings came, the water boiled with rising trout, engulfing every sulfur hatching on the water just like our pre-trip research indicated.
For some extra fun on the trip, I even brought my tenkara rod from Tenkara USA. It’s a line only fly rod with no reel that is extremely simple to figure out and incredibly fun to use to bring in fish. The fact that I was catching mountain trout, the intended purpose of the tenkara rod, made it even more special, especially using dry flies.
By the end of the trip, I must admit that these glorified creek chubs did make a profound impression on my pre-conceived notion of what trout were all about. The skill and attention to detail that was required and demanded to be utilized before catching one of those fish was rather frustrating.
My friend, who has a lot more experience fishing for trout in Colorado, dominated our daily competitions of who could catch the most fish. But after a while, I started hooking up more frequently when I began figuring out the drift and mending of the line necessary to keep the fly in the strike long enough for it to look natural. But like I said, parts of it were rather frustrating.
One of best parts of this trip wasn’t the fact that we caught over 90 trout in three days, but that fact that we actually planned it out and did it. Our campsite consisted of a tent, sleeping bags, and two camp chairs. We didn’t even make a fire. We ate gas station food and snacks that we packed while out on the water. We were there to fish and fish we did.
While on this trip, it got us thinking about other destinations that we may be able to take around the country over a weekend, where if things lined up just right, we could luck right into another weekend we would never forget.
Message boards, magazines, and websites are full of information regarding specific runs of fish at certain times of the year. The biggest challenge of all is just making the plans to be there where it happens.
For example, if you haven’t fished the King Salmon run of Northern Michigan; make that a priority this fall like I know I will. I also plan to be on the Wabash River outside of Lafayette, Indiana with my fly rod when shovelnose sturgeon make their summer trip to spawn.
Crappies explode on Reelfoot Lake in the spring down in Tennessee. Once the water hits 50 degrees in the spring on Cave Run Lake in Kentucky, chasing muskies with rattle trips can create many fantastic fishing days. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, chasing the right fish.
With a little research and the desire to make the trip, there may be an extraordinary fishing opportunity right down the road from you right now that you never even knew about, all because it’s a fish you never gave consideration to trying to catch.
Summer is just getting started and the fishing is only going to get better. Put a little time in on the computer, find a fishing spot, a campground, and maybe a gas station for food if you have the stomach for it, and give it shot.
All that is left is for you to go out and do it.
Where do you plan to go fishing this summer? Will it be your first time there? Leave a comment about your next trip.