Early Summer Trout Fishing In Rivers: Tips and Tactics

Early summer trout fishing is a great time for nice brown trout like this.
A nice brown trout caught by the author.

Trout are active throughout the year, and in many places, the good spring fish is winding down and it’s time for early summer trout fishing.

Trout fishing in the summer can start to get difficult due to warmer weather but early summer is usually still good. I guide and fish during this time with excellent results and lots of big trout. I’ll share my tactics with you here.

Benefits of Early Summer Trout Fishing in Rivers

good trout fishing rigs will help you consistently catch big brown trout like this.
I’ve guided thousands of anglers so I know I can not consistently catch big fish like this brown trout without using the best trout fishing rigs.

The weather in May and June is well-suited for both humans and fish. You won’t be too hot or too cold while targeting trout nor need the bulky wet wading gear.

  • In late spring or early summer, the water is still rather cool and boasts consistent moderate flows. The temperature is stable, and there are plenty of insects. All this combined makes an ideal environment for trout to feed actively. 
  • Late spring and early summer are the spawning seasons for rainbow trout species. However, most are finished spawning and on the feed. It means they will strike at anything that moves – including the lure. 
  • In some parts of the country, during early May, all the snow from the high mountains melts down and drains into creeks and streams that feed the rivers increasing the water levels and making them too murky to fish. By late May and June, the water clears up, and anglers get to enjoy some of the best fishing days of the year. 
  • Trout are not very picky or careful when feeding in spring and early summer.
  • The month of June yields some of the largest trout of the season. I can catch trout up to 25 inches long in some rivers.
  • Salmon flies hatch in mid-June on some rivers. Trout love to eat these big, black & orange stoneflies, so start using both nymphs and dry fly imitations.

Best Tips For Catching Trout In Early Summer

A rainbow trout caught on a spinner
A rainbow trout caught on a spinner

Take advantage of the best time of the day.

When trout fishing in early June and July, the best time of day for trout fishing is either mid-to-late morning or mid-to-late afternoon. The higher the temperatures are, the earlier I need to start fishing.

Daytime temperatures become significantly warmer in July, and I get out as early as possible. I try to get to my spot before dawn to start fishing with the first sunlight. If you are not an early bird, go fishing in the late afternoon.

Take advantage of the aggressive feeding behavior.

The author holding a large trout caught on a two-fly nymph rig.
The author holding a large trout caught on a two-fly nymph rig in early summer.

As we have already established, trout are very defensive during the spawning season, but when they are finished, they attack almost anything in their range.

Use bright or flashing spoons and spinners to trigger their aggression. I also utilize baits that look like trout eggs or small fish since trout are known to eat each other’s eggs and offspring.

Use the right size tippet/leader and hooks.

A 4X tippet tied to a large fly is a good start in rivers. It is an excellent setup for fighting fish in strong currents.

Water Clarity: keep things as natural-looking as possible.

Guide Graham with a large brown trout using good nymphing speed control.
While others around me are lucky to catch just one or two large wild trout like this, Some days, my clients and I are hooking over 10 trophy-sized trout a day. What’s my secret? SPEED CONTROL…

This is when some rivers start to get really low and clear. Keep the trout happy by using natural baits and presenting them at the right speed and depth. 

Once trout focus on feeding, I can carefully wade close to them but stay behind the fish so they don’t see me. Use an easy cast method and make sure the bait lands softly without disturbing the fish. Bait Speed control is critical for catching more trout.

Use adequate fishing gear.

Any 9-foot long, 4 to 6-weight fly rod fitted with a floating line will do the job in most environments and situations.

If the water is muddy from early summer rains and the visibility is low, one of my most effective methods is to tie on a streamer like a big olive sculpin imitation. Use a 9-foot, 5-weight, or 6-weight rod that can throw a heavy fly. A 5 to 7 feet will suffice for streamers. 

5 to 7-foot spinning rods and size 15 to 20 spinning reels are great for small stream fishing with lures or baits. I prefer longer 8 to 12-foot rods for float fishing or bottom bouncing on bigger rivers.

Find a good fishing spot.

One of my clients fishing fast water for trout.
One of my clients fishing fast water for trout.

In early summer, rivers are packed with trout, so I won’t have to look long and hard for trout. Try the following areas:

  • Along the river banks
  • Log jams and boulders
  • Mouths of creek tributaries

Water Temps For Summer Trout Fishing

Keep it simple, have a stream thermometer on hand, and if the water temps get up to 68F/19C, it’s time to find colder water or go home for the day.

Trout fishing in July and Trout fishing in August have their challenges, but there are things I do then to catch lots of large trout.

Best Flies For Early Summer Trout

An assortment of dry flies.

Every season calls for a different setup. May and June are between the spring and summer seasons, so I choose flies that are hatching at that time.

Here is what experienced anglers recommend:

  • Prince Nymph
  • Flashback Pheasant Tail
  • Wooly Bugger
  • Lighting Bug Pearl
  • Copper John Hot Wire
  • Parachute Adams
  • PMD
  • Caddis Larva
  • Hot Wing Caddis

Early summer is also a great time for dry fly fishing. I see mayfly, caddis, and stonefly hatches, combined with terrestrials like beetles and crickets.

Streamers are also great at this time of year, two of my favorites are the Circus Peanut and Zoo Cougar.

Best Lures

An assortment of my lures that I use for trolling and casting for trout in lakes.
An assortment of my lures that I use for catching trout.

I and an assortment of good lures in my tackle box.

Take my advice and fish early in the morning or late in the afternoon with lures and start casting a small size #1 or #2 spinner from the shoreline or a boat.

The best spinners are Panther Martins and Mepps in gold, silver, or bronze color. Check out spinner fishing for trout.

Also, try casting lures that flutter and dart like spoons and crankbaits.

Best Baits

The Worm Is A Great Trout Bait
The worm is a great trout bait but only if it’s the right size and it’s presented well.
  • Worms: often best in the mornings, on cloudy days, or after a rain.
  • Grubs and insects: Many types of grubs, as well as crickets, are good for trout.
  • Salmon or Trout Eggs: While most anglers consider salmon eggs for spring fishing, they can work very well in early summer
  • Artificial Baits: Check out trout fishing with Berkley Powerbait.

Tight Lines,


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