This time of year, when water temperatures are an issue on the region's trout streams, I feel more like a turkey hunter – arising well before dawn and staggering out the door to go trout fishing.
But that's what we have to do right now, since water temps generally rise steadily during the day and often by mid- to late morning have reached the high 60s and sometimes higher. That's much too high for the trout, which deserve a break from any fishing pressure, since simply surviving can be a challenge in itself.
Cooler nights of late have helped considerably, but I still err on the side of caution and would much rather leave the trout alone for some late-season opportunities when the waters have definitely cooled and the trout are on the prowl, putting on the feedbag ahead of the long North Country winter.
But right now there are certainly opportunities to get out on your favorite trout stream, as long as you do it early and keep an eye on the water temperature.
And, to be honest, it's one of my favorite times of the season.
Tossing grasshopper, ant and beetle patterns is perhaps the most exciting way to fly-fish for trout; certainly a lot more fun that dredging nymphs well below the surface. Hopper, ants and beetles virtually guarantee explosive strikes on those days when the fish are keyed in on terrestrials, and I typically jumpstart the hopper season, casting them enthusiastically, knowing full well there are probably other, more effective ways of catching fish and the grasshoppers haven't yet appeared.
But they have now, and I've been heading out early and often, skipping the sunny mid-days when, to be honest, the hoppers are more likely to be active but the water temps aren't conducive to rousting trout. Even shortly after sunrise, when the terrestrials aren't stirring, trout will respond to any reasonable presentation.
It's delightful fishing. Strikes can be explosive and memorable, even when you miss the fish. The flies themselves are often gaudy, easy to see, with colorful names like Chernobyl Ant, Dave's Hopper, Joe's Hopper, Letort Cricket, Letort Hopper, Fat Albert and Galloup's Ant-Acid. Often, you don't even have to match what's showing up locally. Sometimes the most outrageous of patterns draw the most attention from the trout.
I even tie foam flies of my own, and they work consistently enough for me to realize that, while they don't look too good to me, they pass the eye test with the trout. And that's all that matters.
Keep an eye on the water temps, and even if you have to get out there are first light, pitch some hopper, ant or beetle patterns for some exciting surface action on the region's superb trout waters. Most of the anglers have packed it in for the season and have gone on to other waters in search of bass and pike. You'll likely have a stretch of stream all to yourself, and there's no better place to greet the morning that our outstanding trout streams.