The Small Game of Summer
By late summer river levels are low, fish are wary from a season of inspecting natural and manmade insects, and hatches have dwindled to almost nothing.
Summer is known for terrestrial and attractor season, but often it's small patterns that can get some of the biggest fish enticed to the surface during the dog days.
A recent report from good shop friend Dave K. (thanks Dave!) and from a tackle rep friend reminded me of how important it is to play the small game come late season. Morning hours may get some attention with larger hoppers and chernobyls in our region, but as the sun comes high, and fish more selective, throwing a big fluffy pattern just won't cut it.
What kind of small flies am I referring to? Well, there are a number of patterns out there that could be potential players on the rivers you are fishing. A few basic ideas are: small parachutes, small caddis, midges, tricos, baetis and pmd's.
However, the pattern may not be as important as the size. A size 16 would be considered a large pattern. Your late season small game assortment should consist of a mix of the aforementioned variety in sizes 16-20. In our Spokane / Coeur d'Alene region we are fortunate enough to not have to fish these sizes of flies often compared to other parts of the Rockies such as Colorado. Although there are many folks that enjoy enticing trout on small patterns, to each their own.
Before you head out on your late summer adventure, double check your assortment of small patterns and if the going gets tough give the small game a try.