July 29, 2019

The Early Bird Gets the Worm: Summer Stillwater Tactics

August is typically the warmest month of the year in B.C. It’s also when many families are out camping and vacationing at the many hundreds of trout-fishing lakes in the Interior. However, catching fish at this time can be a bit more challenging. With some minor tweaking of when we go out on the water, and where we fish in a lake, you can still find some great angling. 
First, we need to understand a little about where trout live during the warmer summer months. Fish need cool, well-oxygenated water, which means that when the surface and upper layers of a lake are warmest, they search out colder and deeper water. Whether casting and retrieving flies, trolling flies or lures, using lake trolls, or still fishing with a bobber and worm, you should be presenting your offerings in water that is in the 4.5- to 7.5-metre (15- to 25-foot) depth range. At these depths, the water will be cool and adequately oxygenated so that trout are feeding and, hopefully, will bite your flies or bait. 

Because knowing the depth at which you are fishing is important, a depth sounder or fish finder is a useful tool. The “sweet spot” to be fishing also coincides with where the deeper water meets the shallower water of the lake. Referred to as the drop-off zone, it is quite visible to the naked eye in clear lakes, and also shows up prominently on a fish finder.

Consider using some of these proven summertime fish catchers: dragonfly nymph and leech fly patterns; Triple Teazers, Dick Nite, Syclops, and Krockodile spoons; Panther Martin and Wedding Ring spinners; small Apex Hot Spot, Flatfish, or Lyman high-action plugs; earthworms; and Power Bait. Now that you know the preferred daytime feeding depths, you can substantially increase your chances of catching a few fish.

There are a couple of other good times to be on the water – early in the morning, and then again, late in the evening. These low-light periods offer better fishing success because the water overall will be cooler, and fish will thus be more active in shallower water. These prime depths (meaning water less than 4.5 metres in depth) have had a chance to cool down enough to allow the trout to feed. Just remember: during the daytime, shallower water will often be too warm for fish to be actively feeding there. 
There are also lakes scattered throughout the Interior with very good kokanee fishing. Fishing for these landlocked sockeye salmon can be quite productive during warmer periods of the summer. Kokanee are feeding on zooplankton, those tiny orange-red or light olive-green dots you see twitching through the water. Since zooplankton is concentrated in deeper water during daylight hours, try trolling for kokanee with your lures and baits set at depths between six and 15 metres (20 and 50 feet). The water is both cold and well-oxygenated at these greater depths, offering prime conditions to catch some of the best-tasting fish around. The primary tactic when fishing for kokanee is trolling with a small dodger to attract the fish to a following lure or spoon, whose hook tip is typically sweetened with dyed and scented corn or a maggot.

As you plan your August trip to the lake, definitely consider bringing a boat and tackle box along. Your local fishing tackle retailer is an excellent source for all the right gear for summertime fishing. And by choosing where and when you fish at your lake, you can add  some excellent family fun to your holiday.

Author: Brian Chan, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC Ambassador
Photos: Brian Chan