Dog Days


George Abernathy

Trout are like people. OK… they’re not much like people, but like us, they don’t function well at extreme temperatures. Here in Arizona, summer temperatures present trout with no small amount of discomfort. And like us, they have few options to mitigate summer’s excess. AC is out, as is relocating to a cabin in Pinetop or, God forbid, summering in Wisconsin. Those trout unlucky enough to have been stocked in local valley lakes as part of the state’s urban winter trout program are doomed. However, their northern brethren may survive the summer by moving into deeper and cooler waters. Oxygen levels may be a bit higher down there, and (unfortunately for us) they become much more difficult to catch.

The Dog Days of Summer, then, represent a seasonal low point in our success rates. Trout are deep, lethargic, aloof to whatever fly we might be lucky enough to dangle in front of them. Our strategies to 1) locate and 2) intercept Dog Day (DD) trout are basically to go deep or fish early morning or late evening hours. Such tactics are often thwarted by the predilection of our club members to either sleep in, then have a long and hearty breakfast or retire early after a long and hearty dinner, drinks included.

During those brief moments when we are actually fishing for DD trout, many of us employ sophisticated technology to locate the fish. These sonar devices pulse energy into the water, ping off a fish’s air bladder, then return a telltale signal pinpointing the position of our prey. The ethics of all this are the subject of spirited debate, which we shall leave for the gentle reader to ponder. Fair chase aside, I can say that simply knowing where a DD fish might be has little to do with the likelihood of actually hooking the beast.

In the cooler waters of mornings and evenings, DD trout move into shallow near shore waters, and these times are among the most pleasant and rewarding of all. Postcard moments of trout rising to a dry fly amid backdrops of brilliant Arizona sunrises or long summer sunsets are memorable. Another plus may be that, as fishing success goes down during the heat of the (Dog) day, there is more justification for long lunches, afternoon siestas and a few favorite beverages. Thinking about that, perhaps we’ve been a bit too critical of the Dog Days of Summer.