Those never-ending lazy days of summer might well have every man and his dog rushing to the beach, but such sweltering conditions are rarely conducive to good trout fishing. Prolonged hot spells often restrict any insect hatches to last knockings when those anglers coming off the water at 5pm complain about heat stroke and a distinct lack of fish. But all is not lost. If we are to enjoy the best of it when a blazing sun literally cracks paving slabs then we must revise our fishing times to outside of office hours and adopt some different tactics to ensure success.

evening rise

When hot weather curtails daytime fishing, it’s time to make the most of the evening rise

LEAVE IT LATE

Admittedly, through eagerness, we all tend to arrive too early during any fishing trip, let alone one planned for evening time. By 5pm on most waters, all the other rods are packing down with remarks of “a lack of fish”. Little do they know they are departing just as things are about to get interesting. Often the best of any action begins just on dark which in summer is later than you might think.

MONITOR THE WIND DIRECTION

As any breeze generally falls light come evening time, it’s good practice to have some idea of which direction the wind blew from earlier in the day. This might not be so important on small, intimate stillwaters that you can easily walk round, but on larger stillwaters it’s vital. This gives you some idea where you might plan an evening session, as a brief window of activity won’t allow you time to up sticks and drive to the other side of a vast reservoir if you make a bad call. We recommend making for the downwind shore given a faint breeze as it’s here daytime currents will have gathered tasty titbits for trout.

Breeze drop

Summer evenings usually see breezes drop.

DO NOT DISTURB!

In imitate bays, or where shallow water exists, stillwater fly fishers would do well to remember the sea trout angler’s code of refraining from entering the water until after dark. Granted, we might not have to wait until sundown, but by the same token, don’t be too eager to start thrashing the water to a foam. Such actions are bound to alert any trout which might have considered feeding nearby and prevent them from venturing closer. It’s often shrewd to wait until several trout are feeding confidently within casting range before lengthening line.

KEEP BACK FROM THE WATER’S EDGE

A trout’s natural feeding grounds tend to be in surprisingly shallow water (less than three feet), as it’s here aquatic vegetation grows strongest to support a legion of bugs and flies. In a perfect world of no human presence, due to being undisturbed, trout will happily feed in these shallow areas. However, anglers wandering the banks during daylight hours often send trout scurrying to deeper water for safety. Generally speaking, as darkness grows, fish lose their inhibitions and once more populate the shallow margins. This coincides too with less bankside disturbance, as fewer anglers are about as dusk approaches. With that, make a point of keeping well back from the margins until you’re ready to cast

WHY WADING SHOULD BE A LAST RESORT

Where permitted, some folks think nothing of wading in right to their limit before chucking out a long line. Come evening time, such behaviour inadvertently alarms trout cruising by the margins. Ideally, begin using short casts to cover the shoreline before extending the line to search further out. Wading merely serves to send out warning ripples, especially during a flat calm, so it’s best then to refrain from dipping a toe in the water unless absolutely necessary.

leader-tippet

Finer tippets of 0.14mm to 0.18mm allow imitations some degree of movement when breezes fall light.

GO FINE

We recommend using the strongest breaking strain leader that conditions allow. In a strong breeze and rolling wave, this could be as much as 8lb breaking strain (approximately 0.22mm diameter). However, on still evenings our leader can stand out like a rope. We also need to consider that thicker diameters restrict our imitation’s movement, sometimes rendering them lifeless! Where circumstances allow, it can be worth dropping down in monofilament diameter to 4 or 5lb breaking strain (around 0.14mm or 0.15mm diameter). Such tippets leave less of an imprint at the surface and being more pliable, allow smaller flies to fish correctly. Be mindful though as weed beds, or other underwater snags can cause breakages when using gossamer-like leaders.

DEGREASE REGULARLY

Degreasing the tippet length on a regular basis where a calm surface occurs means there’s less likelihood of creating a telltale wake that can alert trout all is not well. It can also take the shine off the leader, reducing flash.

degreasing line

Degrease more regularly in calm conditions.

Think about the flies

TRY WORKING THE FLY

Static dry flies are all well and good when enough daylight is available to determine a taking trout. However, the obscure light of dusk makes deciphering rise forms difficult when we end up lifting into ‘phantom takes’ that only serves to alarm nearby trout due to the tearing noise of a fly line leaving the water. Working your fly to create a wake in the gathering gloom not only attracts trout but means we have constant tension, which helps detect takes by touch, rather than sight!

Parachute emerger

Flies with light-coloured wings like this Parachute Emerger stand out against a dark background in fading light.

WHEN TO GO SMALL

Trout rising in the evening have a reputation for being notoriously difficult to tempt. In truth, this is only partly true, especially during the early stages of a hatch, which may begin before the sunlight is off the water. Due to the brightness now, fish are often nervous and respond better to smaller flies, even when the naturals they’re feeding on might be larger. If you experience refusals or fish that simply nose the fly rather than confidently take it, rather than knot on an entirely different dressing, think of merely dropping down in fly size, perhaps from something like a size 14 to a size 18.

WHEN TO GO LARGE

Whilst contradicting the above, there are times when stepping up in fly size can be beneficial come evening time. Lots of natural insects littering the water often mean your imitation gets lost in the crowd. An oversized fly stands out, hopefully making it more attractive. Equally, given breezy weather, smaller flies easily get lost in the commotion of wave action. Again, think about selecting a larger imitation. Perhaps more poignant though is increasing the size of your fly as the darkness grows. A sinking sun usually sees trout lose some of their inhibitions and become bolder in their behaviour. Now, a larger fly cast out into the gloaming can be devastating.

Elk Caddis

Large, bushy creations like this overdressed elk hair caddis can be deadly in the dark.

CONSIDER FLY COLOUR

Selecting an imitation with the appropriate wing colour can massively increase our odds. If casting towards a dark area, maybe a tree-lined shore, or one where hills create a dark backdrop, then select flies with white or yellow coloured wings/posts. Conversely, when casting out towards a sinking sun, or where a silvery shimmer is evident then dressings with black, or dark wing shades will be more obvious to us.

USE FLIES WITH BUOYANT MATERIALS

Wispy dressings, or those using the likes of cul de canard have a tendency to quickly become swamped. In the growing darkness, such flies might inadvertently sink without us being aware of such a folly. Avoid this by relying on flies dressed with buoyant materials. Those constructed using foam, or deer hair should be our first port of call.

head torch

It’s important to be prepared when fishing in low light conditions

REMEMBER A HEAD TORCH

It’s surprising the number of anglers who turn up to enjoy a spot of evening fishing without a head torch. Not only is it vital for changing flies as darkness falls, a torch beam is always handy when unhooking and releasing trout. Whatever you do, refrain from sending beams of light out over the water as this can alarm nearby trout.

For more information on fishing summer evening rises, please feel free to contact the Angling Active team, we are more than happy to help

This article was brought to you in association with Trout Fisherman Magazine.