Late Summer Trout Fishing In Rivers: Guide Tips For More Trout

Late Summer Trout Fishing In Rivers   

Late summer trout fishing can be great because the water is starting to cool off again, the trout are bigger at this time of year, and they are starting to feed heavily before they start to spawn. Some of the nicest looking trout are caught in late summer.

Late summer trout can also be tough since many of the big hatches are over, and anglers aren’t sure what methods, flies, and baits are good at this time. I enjoy guiding for trout at this time and my clients often do well on larger trout in late fall. I will share some of my tactics with you.

Late Summer Trout Fishing In Rivers

In late August and September, the weather starts to change. The stifling dog days are over, and the nights are cooler. There are benefits to fishing this time of year.

Solitude: Late summer is an ideal opportunity to have your favorite fishing spot all for yourself. Often, anglers are elsewhere targeting other species or have forgotten about trout for the year.

Late August and September mark the end of the summer vacation period, and people usually focus on going back to work or their kids starting school. For this reason, there is considerably less angling pressure on most rivers that are often overcrowded during the prime season.

The salmon and steelhead anglers that fish for trout all summer now pack up and move to larger salmon and steelhead rivers looking for giant fish. Therefore, many rivers are left empty of anglers.

Fish Feeding: Trout appetites increase as they start preparing for the winter. Therefore, it becomes easier for anglers to find and catch fish that were less active all summer.

  • In late summer some of the biggest brown trout will start moving out of their summer spots and will start migrating closer to their spawning grounds. This can put big fish in wide open spots and make them easier to catch.
  • Late summer brings some of the best days for trout fishing weather-wise. Trout Fishing, the scorching hot summer days are replaced with pleasantly warm afternoons. It means you can spend the whole day out enjoying trout fishing, and more time on the water usually means more fish in the net.
  • In September, the nights and mornings become cooler, which means that trout feed later in the mornings, giving you more prime time to catch them. Because the water was colder in the morning and there tends to be more oxygen content, many trout will even feed later into the afternoon as well.
  • After three months of eating high-protein and high-fat food from spring until late summer, many trout can grow substantially. So even though the number of fish might be the same in September, late summer is an opportunity to catch bigger trout.
  • September in the northern parts of our country portrays a stunning display of fall colors along all trout rives.

The Best Tips For Catching More Late Summer Trout

Choose the appropriate location.

Trout are not always where they were at the beginning of the summer since many will migrate to colder waters. Late summer low flows still affect trout significantly, and many big trout will have to shift to areas that remain deep enough for them.

Deep spots can be pretty scarce in August and September, so you may find concentrations of big fish in those bigger and deeper spots. 

Most riffles become too thin for trout, so that eliminates much of the water, making it easier for you to locate trout. Even runs that used to be waist-deep in the spring become too shallow to fish in late summer. Trout are forced to concentrate in the remaining water, and I do well in 3 to 6-foot pockets, pools, and along the deeper structures. 

In the straight parts of the river, some trout usually find refuge in the central area. Look for them close to a mid-stream boulder, or a trench, or a slight hole in the bottom, as well as a bubble line in the main flow. Fish are likely to be at the bottom of trailing seams extending downriver.

Around river bends where it’s deeper, trout are normally found near the outer banks or the short straight sections that follow. Due to slower water flows in these areas, trout can feed more efficiently. You should be able to find some trout in deeper water next to a shoreline structure, such as a  log or a boulder.

You should also check the following areas:

  • Dam walls
  • Deep and fast pockets
  • Along or under logs that have a depths of 2 feet or more
  • Sharp drop-offs, ledges, and trenches in the river bottom  

Take Advantage Of The Spawning Season.

Some trout species leave their summer feeding habitat and slowly move upstream to spawning spots. For example, in some climates, brook trout and brown trout shift upstream and begin pre-spawning feeding by the middle of September. 

You should do your best not to disrupt spawning sites when wading but target pre-spawn trout that are still feeding heavily.

Even though rainbow and cutthroat trout are done spawning by the beginning of summer, they often follow their brown trout and brook trout relatives upstream to feed with their eggs. It would be best to go and fish 10 to 20 feet downstream of spawning beds, but be careful not to disturb spawning trout.

I often find the first pool or deep spot below spawning fish is an excellent opportunity for anglers.

The Best Techniques

Fly fishing is a great way to catch trout at this time of the year, and I use multiple fly fishing methods.

Nymphing For Late Summer Trout

The tight line method known as euro nymphing should be your first choice since it allows you to find out if there are any trout feeding at different levels, and you can fish in the shallow clear water without spooking trout with a big indicator.

I will often use bright visible flies on the upper part of the leader and more subtle nymphs like a Frenchie fly on the lower part of the leader.

Dry Fly Tactics For Late Summer Trout

Daddy long legs, hoppers, beetles, ants, and other terrestrials are still active during September, and you can target trout fishing on the surface with a single dry fly technique.

If you are an experienced fly fisher, you can exhibit your advanced skills by fishing a dry dropper method, provided your area permits the use of multiple flies. 

If the water surface is wavy, opt for a bigger profiled dry fly that won’t break the surface easier. If the surface is flat, or there is just a slight ripple, choose a smaller dry fly such as a caddis or flying ant CDC pattern. 

Streamer Fishing For Late Summer Trout

In September, trout often feed on the fry of younger trout or other baitfish. It is an excellent opportunity for streamer fishing. Streamer fly fishing can be an excellent alternative to ordinary fly fishing techniques on flooded rivers, especially for targeting brown trout. 

The Best Late Summer Flies

This time of the year the rule of thumb is to scale your flies down, or when possible, match the hatch. The fishing season has been running so long that trout have already been targeted with almost every fly you can find in a fly box.

That is often why I find it best to choose a smaller, more natural-looking fly that trout will be more likely to follow and engulf.

Nymphs, dry flies, and streamers are good options. See 29 Best Trout Flies.

The Best Baits

Lure and bait fishing are also effective methods for fishing trout in August and September.

Remember: Less is more when fishing late summer trout and small baits are often best! Therefore, it would be wise to bait your hook with a small worm, maggot, egg, or bead.

Using float fishing methods with small floats, light weights, and light leaders can be effective in deeper spots. For effective float fishing tactics and tips, check out the float fishing page.

In shallower spots and in pocket water, the most effective method is bottom bouncing.

I use lures since they are very effective for trout in most rivers. I maintain the natural action of your lure and determine what speed and depth the trout want it, and I cover the water effectively.

I recommend the following lures

  • Spinners
  • Spoons,
  • Rooster Tails
  • Bang Tails
  • FlatFish
  • Quick Fish
  • Small Apex
  • Panther Martins
  • Dick Nite Spoons

Tight Lines


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