“The more things appear to change the more they stay the same.”

Fishing in July

            The month of July begins the warm weather fishing season. The combination of rising air and water temperatures seems to alter the fishing patterns used in previous months. Rising water temperatures concentrate fishing in ponds and streams to specific areas. Deep holes in streams and deeper water or shaded areas in ponds are the likely spots. Along the salt, tidal rivers now relinquish their reign and fishing moves out to  along the coast.

Here in Rhode Island June 2013 was the third wettest on record .  As a result  in early July lakes and pond were full and along with rivers and streams at water at levels typical of early May. Water temps were also slightly cooler than usual and  this combined with high water levels may help a few trout make it through the summer and into the fall. However two extended early July heat waves have spiked water temps both inland and along the coast. This has caused a slow down in fishing activity in upper Narragansett Bay and in most pond and streams.  Despite seasonal weather variations annual events continue to take place with only slight deviations from their typical timetable. Whether they’re earlier, on time or later is often difficult to predict precisely but you can be certain they will happen.

During the first week of July the Hexagenia hatch should be at its peak. The best fishing during the “Hex Hatch” will be from just after sunset until well after dark. It’s a good idea to be on location before dark to familiarize yourself with the area you intend to fish. Gauging casting distances and knowing where obstacles are will save you from losing flies and having to re-tie in poor light conditions. If you arrive in the evening  before  sunset keep an eye out for birds like the Eastern Kingbird, American Robin and Phoebes beginning to be more conspicuous along  the bushes and trees that line the river. They’ll  be in the sections of the river where Hexagenias are likely to emerge and their activity will signal when these huge  mayflies begin to appear.. They’re as anxious to pick off one of these big fluttering mayflies as you are a nice trout. Trout will take up their summer residences and can be found in long deep pools or  near fast  rapid type water that yields more oxygen. Large and smallmouth bass will seek deeper water during the month in ponds which afford such luxury. Most Rhode Island ponds are shallow man made basins with little deep water to speak of. In these ponds Black Bass seek out heavy lily pad beds , stump laden areas or any other areas that provides shade. Around the second week of July, Brickyard Pond in Barrington, RI comes alive the two hours before dark. The Alewife (River Herring) that entered this pond in April now display the fruits of their spawning effort. From a distance the ponds surface looks as if a light rain shower is  occurring but a closer look will reveal and abundance of one inch long alewife fry flipping about the surface. The pond’s largemouth bass population takes full advantage of the seemingly carefree youngsters. The bass are focused on the surface and can be seen breaking here and there as they feed on the herring. Surface fishing with a popping bug can be spectacular at this time . My favorite popper here is a 1/0 Gaines Minnow. It’s  a pearl bodied popper with a white tail and black collar.  No doubt that similar events take place at other ponds where herring spawn in the spring.

Gaines Minnow

Down on the salt fishing spreads out to all along the coast. As water temperatures rise, bait that was once concentrated in tidal rivers and estuaries filters out to along the coast. Fishing for stripers picks up in July along the rocky shores and beaches. The first schools of good size stripers moves into the Narragansett, R.I. area around the first week of the month. The area near the mouth of Narrow River has always treated me well around the 4th of July as well as the area north of Point Judith Light. Small two inch long sandeels are a primary forage along the Narragansett beaches in July. Tidal river fishing in at the Bristol Narrows and Warren river will remain good throughout the month, especially if a few schools of big menhaden find their way to them. Some awfully large stripers have  come from the Narrows in July over the years.  Snapper Bluefish, called Skipjacks locally, arrive early in July. These six to eight inch eating machines will strike anything that moves. Because of their voracious manner many will be about a foot long when they leave in mid-September.  They’re fun to catch and provide great sport on a 3 or 4 weight fly rod and  my dogs  love eating fresh snapper bluefish.

Marabou Bondorew Bucktail

Marabou Bondorew Bucktail

Tidal rivers, rocky ocean shore fronts, and beaches will all harbor stripers in July.  Each area presents a unique challenge to the fly rodder. requiring the use of different techniques at each environ in order to be successful. The best way is to learn any one of these areas is to stay with it until you are familiar with fishing it and then move on.—Ray

Good bet—Cape Cod Canal EARLY  morning(DARK) slack tides ,+/- 45 mins.either side of slack water.

Narragansett Town beach-First two weeks in July, First light to shortly 30 mins after sunrise.  primary forage 1.5-2″‘sand eels