Fishing this time of year can be a challenge. By now, the trout are wise to the most popular methods, especially in the easy to get to spots on the water. The biggest thing an angler can do to increase their success rate is to think outside the box. Sometimes, the crazier the idea, the more success it might lead to.
When I go out fishing on my days off from the shop, I try to think of portions of water that may still hold some less pressured, and therefore less educated fish. By targeting these spots, I am finding fish that are more willing to play.
An easy way to do this is to simply pull out your map and look for a small tributary stream or high mountain lake and go fish it. Chances are if you’ve heard the spot talked about more than a couple times, or if its accessible off a popular road or trailhead, you are going to run into the educated hard-to-catch fish. Not saying you won’t catch any, but you will have to work a lot harder for them. If I can google a stream or lake, and not find any info on it, then I get excited. Most of the time these are backcountry off trail spots that require A LOT of physical effort and possibly a good 4x4 vehicle. Sometimes, you do everything right, spend all day getting to the water, and still get skunked, but potential to fish unpressured water loaded with feisty trout and have an unforgettable day makes it worth the gamble.
Sometimes I will only have a couple hours before or after work, therefore having to stay closer to town. There are still some things to keep in mind to find “dumber” fish even at the popular easy to get to spots. Here in Montana we are fortunate enough to have great stream access laws allowing anglers to float or walk as far as they want while staying within the high water mark. Walking even ten minutes away from the access point will cut out the majority of the pressure.
On rivers that see a lot boat traffic, a wade angler can often have an advantage fishing upstream of popular put-ins in the mornings. The idea here is that by fishing upstream when all the boats are floating downstream, you have less crowded water. Eventually, boats that put in upstream of you will hit that same water, but if you are out early enough, there is a small window with zero boat traffic.
Sometimes all it takes is finding a safe spot to cross the river, and simply fishing the other bank. The majority of people will stay to the bank on which they parked. This leaves a lot of untouched bank water to be explored.
With Montana’s waters seeing more and more pressure each season, thinking outside the box in late summer will become increasingly important. You cannot be lazy and expect to catch lots of fish. Lets all spread out a little and work harder to find our own stretches of late summer fish.