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Late Summer Rainbow Trout Fishing Tactics

Late Summer Rainbow Trout Fishing Tactics

By Danny Coyne,

The summer period is, no doubt, the most comfortable time for anglers to target trout on bigger water bodies. The weather conditions are stable and lots of us are spending our summer vacations with rod in hand and trolling freshwater in pursuit of that catch of a lifetime.

While the summer can be one of the best times of the year to fish, it can also be some of the most challenging periods. When it comes to Rainbow Trout, numerous factors come into consideration as to whether they will come out and play or not. Follow some of these basic summer fishing tactics to help you hook more fish this time of year.

Change up your presentation when targeting summer rainbow trout

Rainbows can be very active in the summer months as their metabolism is in full swing. Not only is the summertime a great time to experiment with new baits and lures, but you may have to unlock that secret pattern or tactics that will get the fish to strike.

Let’s face it — fishing pressure on our lakes is at its highest during the summer. Fish aren’t that smart, but they do become somewhat conditioned to the same old presentation that they see day after day. By trying new tactics, lures, and baits, you may just one-up the angler next to you as you’ve presented that rainbow trout with something entirely new.

Ideal water temperature and thermocline for summer rainbow trout

Our summers are becoming warmer and warmer each year, which means so are the water temperatures. Rainbows want to be comfortable, and they prefer water temperatures between 55- and 65-degrees in the hotter months. Pay attention to your thermometer on your sonar and let it guide you towards the coolest water temperature. Even a few degrees can make all the difference in the world.

Most of the time, you will find the fish nestled within the thermocline of the lake where the water temperature is optimum, and the forage is plentiful. The upper layer, also known as the “mixed layer,” has the highest water temperatures in the lake. The thermocline, or the “middle layer,” holds the greatest temperature change, the richest oxygen levels and is the most comfortable for the fish.

Some high-quality sonars will pick up the thermocline, but if yours doesn’t simply increase the sonar’s sensitivity, look for a consistent depth of water where you see fish suspended. Experiment with which depths to target, just above the thermocline, in the middle of it, or even just below it.

Focus on inlets and contours when fishing for summer rainbow trout

Inlets, such as small streams that feed a lake, offer essential factors for a trout’s survival. A stream usually provides cooler water and generates an increased amount of oxygen for the fish. After heavy rainfalls, the inlets act as a conveyor belt of food that washed into the lake. Inlets will also hold and attract smaller forage fish that large trout like to feed upon. Either troll through these inlet areas or anchor up and cast towards the mouth of the freshwater.

Using bathymetric maps to identify fast-dropping contour lines will help you identify drop-off ledges that hold fish. Trout will seek deeper, cooler water with easy access to quickly ambush passing forage fish. Deep drops allow trout to go deep into comfortable, cooler water, but they can also easily swim to the top of the ledge and feed when the opportunity arises. Trolling these ledges with bait fish presentations will “match the hatch” nicely.

Fish early and late for summer rainbow trout

The old tale that the best fishing times are at first and last light could not be truer in the summer months. It’s most natural for trout to feed at first light and just before night fall. In the summer, the sun is hot and bright, which will push the fish deeper into the water column. As the day progresses, trout also become less active and somewhat lazy. This doesn’t mean that trout won’t feed or attack your lure during midday, but you may need to go deeper or slow your tactics down to trigger a bite.

Also, in the summer months the lakes are being used for other watersports, such as wakeboarding, jet skiing and tubing. This increased water traffic can shut off the bite and drive the fish deep. Thus, stack the odds in your favor by targeting trout in the first three hours of light and into the evening.

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