Never Too Hot for Trout
Think that summer's no time to be fishing for trout? Maybe you need to be be hitting some of these Dakota hotspots.
There are times that you leave the hip boots in the vehicle and just head straight out into the water.
It was one of those times. Far below, the Great Plains cities roasted under a midsummer sun. Up where I was, in the Black Hills, the air was cooler, and the water cold.
[img2="left"]http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/forums/geek/gars/images/4/thumb_ManFishing7.jpg[/img2] It takes such temperatures to sustain and nurture the wild trout that live in the Black Hills. Once the water temperature gets higher than 70 degrees, they risk dying in a heated environment that they can't long tolerate.
I waded slowly upstream in old tennis shoes. The water was as it should be -- cold enough that my appendages could take only a few minutes at a time in the frigid flow before turning a gray-blue color. A distinct numbness set in shortly after.
Time to cast. Before me flowed the head of a pool where water poured in over the riffles. That, I knew, was where the trout lie. They were feeding, coming up occasionally to roll their smooth backs across the water surface like little dolphins entertaining a one-man audience.
I cast just into the edge of the current. It was a dry fly on the tippet. The fish would probably have hit more often with a nymph, but a dry fly is often more fun. It drifted naturally for 6 inches before a brown trout nipped it off the water and plunged down to the bottom of the pool. The hook set into the jaw, and the fish rushed up to the surface to do a full belly flop.
That was the last bit of acrobatics before I managed to pull the hook free and release the fish. Brown trout in the 10-inch range are quite common in Rapid Creek and the other big Black Hills streams, which are good places to visit at this time of year in order to get out of the heat.
But of course there are others.
The smaller trout lakes in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the on the prairie in North Dakota offer good summertime fishing. Though the hot months are sometimes past the prime time of the year, you can still pick up some nice fish, especially when you get on the water very early in the morning before temperatures heat up.
And the Missouri River in both states harbors truly trophy-sized trout. By standards of fish size, the deep water in the Missouri is one of the best locations in North America to pick up big, fat trout weighing multiple pounds.
In North Dakota, several of the better small lakes for catching trout this summer are expected to be Northgate Lake in Burke County and Lightning Lake in McLean County.
Lightning, a round-shaped lake along McClusky Canal, isn't large. When full it is about 18 acres and is nearly 24 feet deep, but it is a rich prairie lake with a good food supply for trout. They grow to 25 inches there, with quite a few fish running 20 inches long.
Northgate is similarly rich in microorganisms, which supply a good food base for trout and other species. Northgate Lake is more of the conventionally long reservoir-like lake. It is 135 acres when full, and just over 24 feet deep. Northgate Lake also has crappie, bluegills and largemouth bass, so anglers might easily pick up a mixed bag there.
Anglers at these lakes cast the usual fly-fishing patterns to catch fish. In the lake environment, nymphs and streamers tend to be the more successful patterns, because they imitate the lifeforms that these venues' fish eat. And sinking line is used most of the time to fish these flies. That's particularly true in summer when the water is warmer and trout seek out the cooler depths.
Often, North Dakota fishermen chose longer rods for this type of fly-fishing. Some 10-footers can be used to power a fly-line into the wind. However, being that long, they're also more tiring to use over long periods.
Several other good trout lakes favored by anglers in the Bismarck area include Fish Creek Reservoir and Raleigh Reservoir.
Don Newcomb, of Mandan, N.D., fishes those lakes. Newcomb is treasurer of the Missouri River Fly Fishers. Thus, he and members of the club also fish the Missouri River, of course.
The Missouri River and the small lakes are somewhat different. "It is more or less still water," said Newcomb. "We don't have any streams."
Some of the trout grow quite large -- and the growing appeal of fly-fishing probably explains the growth of... Read More