Hot Weather Trout Fishing Tips: What Guides Do

my client hot weather trout fishing in the shade for more active fish
My client fishing a shaded section of river in late July on a hot day. Both the fish and us stayed cool.

If you are planning to spend some time in the summer targeting trout in a river, you should be aware of hot weather trout fishing tactics which include finding the most suitable fishing spots that stay cold, and knowing when the best conditions for hot weather trout fishing are.

Hot weather trout fishing means warming water temps combined with low clear rivers and that can make trout fishing tough for anglers. I use smaller and more specific baits and lures, and I fish cold water sections of the rivers and I fish in early mornings when the river is coldest.

Without the proper knowledge, hot weather trout fishing might be very difficult. In this article, I will discuss some of the methods and tips that river guides use to ensure their clients catch more trout during the hot weather period.

The 5 Best Hot Weather Trout Fishing Tips

I guide for trout all summer, even when other anglers think it’s much too warm for catching trout. By simply changing my tactics and where and when I fish put big trout in the net all summer, and without any risk to the trout that we release.

There are many tips that you as a trout angler fishing in hot weather can do to increase your success.

I know there may be some anglers that will get angry with guides like me guiding in hot weather because they believe the warm river temperatures will kill all the trout you catch.

But every year I catch and release the same large trout, sometimes over 20 times throughout the summer season, which clearly demonstrates that proper methods, good timing, proper handling and release works, and knowing these tips can allow you to fish for trout even in very hot weather.

Make Sure You Get The Weather And Water Temperature Right

Like many other fish species, trout are cold-water fish, and they become less active when the water gets too hot. Due to the high oxygen needs, trout search for colder waters during the summer season because the amount of oxygen in the water reduces the hotter it gets. 

When the water temperature reaches 68 degrees Fahrenheit or goes even higher, the oxygen level drops significantly, and the trout get stressed and they will stop feeding until the water cools down again. Trout caught in water temps above 69 degrees can and will often die even if you think that you released them healthy.

In my area, there are warning signs posted along popular brook trout and brown trout rivers that are catch and release. These signs tell anglers not to fish on hot sunny days when the air temperature is high.

Let me just say that air temperatures are irrelevant.

Yep, I know I just pissed off a bunch of conservation-minded trout anglers from the local fishing clubs. But hear me out. The reason I say that air temps are irrelevant is that if the air temps are 90F/ 32C but there is significant groundwater, shade, or other reasons for a river to stay cold, then all that matters is water temperatures.

I always have a stream thermometer with me and I check water temps almost every 30 to 60 minutes on these super hot days and there have been many days when it’s almost 90F and the river is still 63F and fishing well.

Even in 90F I will still hook and land big trout and release them unharmed and healthy and I teach my clients how to do that too. And, I know the trout are unharmed and healthy because I will often do this many times throughout the same year in hot temps releasing the same big trout over and over again. I will often even catch that same trout again next summer.

The key to fishing in hot weather is to monitor the water temperatures regularly, stop when water temps get too warm, and change locations or go home when water temps are above 67-68f

The best temperature to fish trout in the summer is within the 45 to 67 degrees range regardless of the air temps. 

You should always check if there are any temperature-related fishing restrictions or laws in the area you plan to fish in. If water temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit, go home or go find colder water! You won’t catch any trout at such a high temperature anyways so you might as well not even bother.

Hot Weather Trout Fishing: Fishing After A rain

Heavy rain can be beneficial for hot-weather trout fishing, as long as it does not raise the temperature of the water too much. Rainfall raises water levels, brings a fresh oxygen supply, and darkens the water. As a result, trout start to feed more actively, and you have a better chance of catching them.

For tips and tactics and a detailed explanation of why fishing after a rain is so good visit my page Why Trout Fishing After Rain Is Great.

Warning: In some areas, a sudden midday rain shower or thunderstorm that lands on hot streets or open areas like fields that have a lot of sun exposure can result in a lot of hot run-off water that enters the rivers quickly and this can raise water temperatures fast which can seriously stress out the fish.

Finding The Best Place For Hot Weather Trout Fishing.

The best places for successful fishing are cold, fast-flowing streams and rivers that are not particularly exposed to the sun and heat. The best rivers are surrounded by bushes, forests, and mountains that provide shade.

It is good to find fast-moving water with some deeper pools and shady spots along the river. 

Moving water agitates the surface and can drive off carbon dioxide and let in oxygen, which is good news and goes in your favor because it increases the presence and quantity of trout.

Trout will also find shallow and quick waters or a big feeder stream packed with oxygen.

In many areas, the coldest water is near the upper sections of rivers or areas where cold ground water upwellings or colder tributaries enter the river. These areas can often concentrate a lot of trout.

I can often find these areas by temperature testing each spot along the river during hot weather. If one spot is colder than the last, then I have found a nearby source of cold water. If I can find it, so can the big trout. This strategy keeps me and my clients catching big fish all summer.

I can even return to these spots when other parts of the river have become too hot for the trout and this can extend my client’s time on the water.

The Best Times When Hot Weather Trout Fishing

Just like the air temperatures rise by day and descend by night, so do water temperatures. Consequently, the best time for hot weather trout fishing is early morning or late evening.

Many rivers heat up by early afternoon but cool off overnight. On some spring-fed rivers, I have seen water temps go up and down daily by 12 degrees Fahrenheit.

On these rivers, I can fish or guide from sunrise to about 11 am, and the water temps will be perfect in the 60 to 65F range, but by 1 pm, it will be over 70F.

It is also much more convenient for you to be outdoors during those times of the day so you are not baking in the sun. You can be more relaxed and more focused on fishing when the sun isn’t bouncing off the water’s surface, and you feel comfortable being outside.

Fishing at night is also another good way to beat the heat. See Trout Fishing At Night.

Hot Weather Trout Fishing Tips From Guides

Light Lines: Light lines are often important when fishing the low clear waters of summer. Even in deep waters where the hot weather forces the fish down, light thin lines will help get your flies or baits down to the fish.

Surface Feeding: However, under different conditions such as during a bug hatch, the fish can be near the surface feeding on bugs. In that case, a floating fly line with floating flies is required.

Fish The Shade: I will often seek out shaded areas on hot sunny days. Fish in these areas often feel more secure and are not bothered by the sunlight.

Fish The Cover: Summer often means low and very clear water on many trout streams. It also means some of the best fishing is far up the river in the smaller sections. Trout will often seek out big boulders in the river, logs, and wood offer them cover and they will feel more secure in these areas. Fishing around cover or structure can be the best option.

Head Of The Pool: I have found that the trout will often hold and feed very high up at the head of the pool in or under the fast water and rapids. This area provides the most oxygen and it is also a spot the largest fish will feed since it is where the most food is. Big trout will feed at the top of the pool to get in front of all those hungry little trout.

Sight Fishing and Stealth: Because of the low clear water I can often sight fish for large trout feeding. A high vantage point on a tall bank is a great way to local feeding fish. I will also sometimes just sit and scan the water for 5 or 10 minutes looking for flashes from the sides and belly of feeding fish.

Once I find them I use stealth tactics to target specific trout. Unfortunately, many anglers just stomp into a pool making lots of noise and they spook trout before they even cast. This is a big mistake I see many anglers make.

Big Baits and Big Flies: I will often use lures or large streamer flies to locate and sometimes catch large trout. Often trout will move on a lure or a streamer but not hit it. I watch the lure and streamer fly the entire time to local these semi-active fish. Once located, I will fish smaller flies and baits to try and entice them to bite.

Your Hot Weather Trout Fishing Gear

Your hot-weather trout fishing gear should be lightweight and sparse. I wear green and tan sun shirts to protect my skin from the sun and to blend into the background.

I use a pack instead of a vest since I find wearing some fishing vests to be too warm on hot days.

Unless I need to protect my legs from tics or other bugs, poisonous plants, or sharp branches, I will wet-wade with a good set of wet-wading shoes or boots and I will leave the colder water waders at home. The caveat to this is if I know the water is very cold and under 60 degrees, in which case I will wear my wader for warmth.

Polarized sunglasses are a must anytime you fish a river, as are a sun protection cream, and a hat.

Hot Weather Trout Fishing Baits and Tactics

One of the most important aspects of hot weather trout fishing is deciding on the best baits and tactics. Your choice of fishing technique will determine the bait.

The lower clear water calls for a small size spinner, such as a Panther Martin, a small spoon, or even a 1 or 2-inch crankbait.

For traditional wet and dry fly techniques, stick to natural-looking flies such as Wooly Buggers, Prince Nymphs, Frenchies, and an SOS fly. I also recommend that you try euro nymphing since I find it’s more effective in lower clear water. Big indicators or bobbers in low clear water can spook fish.

Guide Tip: When fishing in low clear water I use white indicators. Trout often see lots of white bubbles so a white indicator looks like bubbles. It may be harder for you to see when mixed in with the real bubbles, but I have found what indicators to be a lot more effective.

When bait fishing, I tend to use smaller bobbers, smaller weights, and light leaders.

If and when possible, especially in shallow water, I won’t use a bobber at all and instead use the advanced bottom bouncing methods I discuss on my page Bottom Bouncing. I also use smaller insects and worms than I would in the spring.

The best hot weather trout fishing lures must flutter and dart and I find lures like floating or suspending crankboats that I can rip-rip-rip and then pause/suspend work great.

Guide Tip: Hot weather trout fishing is a game of patience. When the weather is hot and the fish are lethargic and less active, trout are not too apt to chase a faster-moving lure. But there is one type of lure that I have done very well with and I rarely see anglers it.

I recommend using jigs and micro jigs for trout because I have had great success using jigs for trout when other lures and baits are not working. For bigger trout, I use the same 2 to 4-inch jigs. For smaller trout, I have used micro jigs that are 1.5 inches or less.

Catch And Release Hot Weather Trout Fishing

If you are doing catch and release fishing, handle the trout gently and carefully by using a net and keeping its head in the water all the time, and then put it back into the rivers as soon as possible.

Make sure to hold the fish upright in the water until you see it’s fully recovered and allow it plenty of time to rest before releasing it.

Try to touch the trout as little as possible, too. You do not want to damage its protective slime layer and leave it vulnerable to infections. I won’t even pull the trout out of the water until the camera is ready and then I only allow my clients 20 seconds out of water for the picture.

This handling strategy has allowed me to catch the same large trout sometimes up to 20 times from spring to the fall season. The trout are always healthy when I catch them again.

Be sure to check out my page Trout Fishing In Rivers to learn about the methods, baits, and tips that I and other guides use to fish for trout throughout the year.

See Trout Fishing In July and Trout Fishing In August.

Hot Weather Trout Fishing Conclusion

There you have it, the hot weather trout fishing tips used by myself and other river guides. If you have questions or some advice and tips about hot weather trout fishing let me and other readers know in the comment section below.

Tight Lines,


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