Wade in the water
Summertime conditions often put various bodies of water at very low levels. Some rivers and streams that were great for floating and fishing in the Spring and earlier Summer can become very difficult to navigate, even with shallow running crafts. In some streams, during late Summer conditions, you could end up dragging your boat or canoe more than you ride in it. This doesn’t mean we have to stop fishing. Give wading a try.
Wading and fishing is a great relaxing way to spend some time on a hot Summer’s day. It can also be very productive. If an angler has floated and fished a section of a river or stream multiple times, they usually find certain locations along the way to be much better fishing. By wading, and not covering as much distance as they would when floating through, an angler can slow things down and fish a known good area much more thoroughly. That’s not to say that we can’t stop and give extra attention to the best spots on a float, but the reality often is that we need to keep moving to get to the take-out point at the other end, especially if low water conditions are slowing us down.
For Summertime wading we don’t really need any specialized clothing or gear. There is no need for hip boots or chest waders. A pair or swim trunks or shorts works just fine. There is also no need for any type of special wading boots or shoes. An old pair of sneakers, crocs, or canvas river shoes is all we need for footwear. Polarized sunglasses are nice, as they help us see the bottom much better, and sometimes even locate fish.
Anglers often concentrate on the deeper holes, but the oxygenated areas just below riffles, and anywhere cold springs feed into the river can be especially good during hot weather.
Another fishing technique that can be very fun and productive under these conditions, is something I think of as “hybrid wading.” We will take a small boat, raft, or canoe to the river with us, but are not going to ride it downstream to a take-out point. We sometimes paddle a short distance up or down stream in order to get out and fish certain spots. But usually the “boat” is just pulled along or anchored to make it easier to carry extra rods, tackle, coolers, phones, cameras, etc.
My buddy Tim Stapleton often ties a small inflatable raft to his belt and simply tows it and all of his gear along with him as he fishes. I prefer to use a small square back, flat bottomed canoe, that I usually pull out into the river and anchor. This also gives me the option of getting in and paddling for short distances if needed. If you take any kind of craft into the water, be sure to check and follow all boating rules and regulations regarding the use of life preservers etc.
Don’t stay home just because the water in your favorite river or stream is too low to float from your usual put in to take out. Find access to some of the areas that you normally like to fish when you do float through. If there is no public access nearby, meet with landowners to see if you can secure permission. Wading in your favorite spots can lead to some great fishing. Besides, even if the fish don’t cooperate, there are worse ways to spend a hot Summer day than splashing around in the water. Get out there and enjoy your Summer!
Wade Shambaugh has lived in Morgan County his whole life and is a lifelong outdoorsman.