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Summer Fly Fishing Tips

Summer Fly Fishing Tips

Monday, 03 April 2023 19:33

You have arrived at the trailhead of your favorite trout stream in the mountains of western North Carolina. The last time you fished this stream, there was light snow lingering under the rhododendron thickets, and you caught a grand slam, a rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout. You have your favorite fly rod and reel and an assortment of dry flies to attract those lazy trout that you know are hiding in the shade this summer morning.  

You step down the trail and run into the first of many summer hazards that you do not have to worry about when fly fishing for trout during the cooler months of the year in WNC. You have stepped through a spider's web that covers the trail entrance.

Trout fishing in the Appalachian Mountains can expose anglers to a myriad number of environmental hazards, and if you are too intent on stalking that perfect trophy brown trout, or wild brook trout, you can easily overlook the dangers around you.

Summer Fly Fishing Hazards

Fly fishing for rainbow trout in the summer exposes the angler to even more hazards than experienced on the same mountain stream during colder months of the year, and it is imperative that the angler takes the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

Six Most Common Summer Fly Fishing Hazards and Tips to Mitigate Them

1. The Great Engineers of the Forest

Spiders are amazing creatures that can be a great nuisance during the summer, especially when walking down a path to your favorite fly-fishing stream. It is very easy to be so preoccupied with the fact that you are soon to be casting the perfect dry fly over the perfect brown trout that you forget that a mountain trail is a perfect location for a spider to engineer its elaborate web.

Although most spiders are harmless, they can bite; however, the ones that you will find on the trail are not poisonous unless you have allergies to insect bites.

My dad once told me that the best way to mitigate this problem is to bless the woods when you walk down the trail. In other words, take a small stick and wave it out in front of you as you walk. 

Don’t worry about the spiders because, by the time you walk back out of the trail, you will have to do the same thing again because they build back the webs almost as fast as you can knock them down.

2. The Green Menace

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac love to grow along trails, within the deep forest, and along stream banks. During the winter, these plants are dormant, but throughout the summer months, these plants are actively growing. 

If you are wearing shorts because of the heat, then you have set yourself up for an itching time soon after the end of your fly-fishing day. The best thing to do is to know what these plants look like and watch out for them while fly fishing. 

If you are exposed, immediately wash the skin that is exposed to a plant to minimize the exposure. If you don’t have access to easily wash the oils off from poison ivy, crush some jewelweed and rub it on the area to mitigate the effects.

3. Stinging Flyers

Hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps all seem to become ever more agitated as the summer progresses. Their nest can be in the ground, in a weedy area or among rocks, or within the trees above your head. 

If you kick up a nest, you are bound to be stung several times, and the only thing you can do is run as fast as you can away from the nest or jump in the water.  

If you have allergies, you should always have an epinephrine injection with you. Taking Benadryl can also ease the effects of bee stings. For a more natural approach, homeopathists swear by the remedy Apis. The best thing to do is to be totally aware of your surroundings so that you don’t bother them in the first place.

4. Things That Slither

In the winter, the snakes are all underground in the mountains of WNC, but in the summer, they will be going about their normal business. Most of the time, you will never see them, but you should be mindful that one can be under your feet at any given time.

Although most snakes are not aggressive, if you step on one, they will be upset. Both copperheads and rattlesnakes inhabit the areas near most trout streams, so be mindful of where you walk and what rocks you climb over.  If you are bitten by a snake, the only thing you can do is call 911 and get yourself to the nearest hospital.

5. Little Bloodsuckers

The southern Appalachians can be full of ticks during the summer months. They are prevalent in grassy trails and field borders and can jump on you as you walk through these areas.  

The best way to mitigate this hazard is to apply tick repellant before entering the woods and to take a shower when you get home. If you have been bitten, remove the tick with tweezers making sure to fully extract the head and keep the tick in case you develop a rash afterward.

6. The Hot Summer Sun

Keep in mind that while you are fly fishing, the sun is shining down upon you the entire time, so be mindful of the fact and use appropriate sunscreen, wear a hat, and drink plenty of water.

Fly fishing in the summer can be a very enjoyable experience; however, the trout can be more elusive and very selective on what they will and will not eat, so you need to adjust your dry flies to match what you see on a particular stream. You also need to consider lower water flows, more sunshine, and warmer water temperatures. 

Throughout the day, while you are trying to outthink that trophy brown trout, stocked rainbow trout, or wild brook trout, you also need to be mindful that there are new hazards out there, all around you, and take necessary precautions. If you’re ready to book your fly fishing excursion, reach out to the team at Turning Stone’s Fly Fishing today!

Written by:

Gordon began fly fishing as a teenager in southwestern Pennsylvania, where he was raised. He has snagged great catches from as far away as Nevada, California, and Belize. However, he and his wife decided to settle in western North Carolina, where they started Turning Stones. Gordon is a Certified Casting Instructor for the Federation of Fly Fishers and the  Southeastern Coach of the USA Youth Fly Fishing Team.