ELKINS, W.Va. — On a hot July day everybody is looking for a cool spot, even the fish. While It’s unlikely when the temperatures are in the 90’s with high humidity trout will be crashing baits, you can still find them and catch them if you know where to look and how to coax a bite.
Even though conditions where you are may not be ideal, conditions in West Virginia’s high country are different and trout find ways to make it through those difficult time. Those include some which were stocked earlier in the year.
“We stock several places where they have a pretty good opportunity to hold over,” said Dave Thorne who heads the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Trout Program.
“Not everywhere fits that category, but we have several rivers with a lot of cold water and tributaries that afford places for the fish to hide out. There are also a lot of spring fed streams, particularly in eastern Randolph County or in the high mountains of Pendleton, Pocahontas, and Tucker County. You’ll find some good opportunities there for summertime trout,” he said.
Trout aren’t all that different from us when the weather gets hot. They seek out cold water, they need oxygen, and they need the shady spots and deep pools. The needs narrow down where you’ll find them. Generally, according to Thorne, in the summertime conditions where you find one, you’ll find several.
“You want to look for those high oxygen places and be aware the habitat where they are going to be. They find deep pools and places where they can hide. They’ll congregate in those places,” he said.
The biggest obstacle for fish after the spring isn’t necessarily the water conditions, it’s the water flow. A lack of rainfall in the summer can cause some or those high mountain streams to go completely dry. Others will slow down to a low trickle. Fish will be stressed and looking for a spot to settle in to ride out the drought.
“Last year we had a lot of precip and the waters stayed up. But right now, we’re starting to see the smaller streams hit the bottom of their flow cycle for the year. However, these little storms that pop up here and there, if they hit in your area, they can really be a game changer if you’re willing to get out and fish in that,” Thorne said.
Summertime trout fishing also offers seclusion. The term “social distancing” has become a part of our everyday conversations in the year 2020. However, social distancing has been happening for a long time in West Virginia’s mountain trout waters after the stock trucks have finished up for the year.
“You get under the shady canopy of a little trout stream back in the mountains. It’s 76 to 78 degrees. The water is cool, the fish are plentiful, and if you pick your times right, the fish will bite,” he said.