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Summer Trout Fishing in the Ozarks

The Current River is one of the fishing options in the Ozark region.  Great fishing, cool water, and beautiful scenery await!

Summer may be the toughest time of the year to pursue trout in the Ozarks. Water temperatures warm to temperatures that are uncomfortable to trout, the water level is low, and fishing pressure is high. All of these things add up to wary, hard to catch trout roaming our creeks and rivers. It's not a hopeless cause however, and with a few skills you can still hook up.

Trout in the Ozarks (opens our page on Ozark trout fishing) have it relatively easy compared to other areas of the United States. All of our year-round trout waters are either tailwaters (this page opens to a description of tailwater fisheries of the White River of Missouri and Arkansas) of bottom drop dams, or heavily spring-fed. Both of these situations generally create an atmosphere that allows trout fishing to stay relatively steady throughout the summer. It also explains why Missouri waters never experience the stream closures, or even fish kills that streams in the Rockies or Appalachians sometimes do. While water temperatures in Ozark trout waters never reach lethal levels for trout, they can, and often do rise into the high sixties, or even the low seventies. This is usually enough to make fishing fairly difficult. Sometimes, in some of the more temperature sensitive waterways in our area, (the Niangua [opens to page on Niangiua Trout fishing] and the Meramec  [opens to page on Meramec smallmouth bass fishing] being two examples), water temperatures reach the high seventies or even the low eighties. Although these temperatures normally would cause a fish kill, in these situations the trout move into areas of the river that are directly fed by springs, and therefore survive.

Whenever the water temperature reaches 65 degrees, trout generally stop chasing lures or flies that are fast moving, but will still take a slow moving, or dead drifted fly or lure. The key is to drift your presentation as near to the fish’s mouth as possible. Sight fishing is the preferred method. Where legal, nightcrawlers are one of the best presentations. Drift it along the bottom, or better yet, drift it to the nose of a particular fish. Lures and flies that work well include 1/64 ounce marabou jigs, San Juan Red Worms, Scuds, and various nymphs. Generally, the faster the water, the better. Late morning and evening are good times to fish, but in brown trout streams, the darkest part of night tends to be best.

Quite possibly, your best bet when fishing for trout in the summertime is to find the coolest water you can. The four trout parks and the White River Tailwaters almost always have desirable water temperatures, and active trout. If you are fishing a freestone river, move closer to the spring. For example, if you are fishing the Meramec River, instead of fishing eight miles downstream from Maramec Spring (opens Missouri Trout Park Fishing page) at the Scotts Ford Access, you should try fishing right at the junction pool of the spring branch and river, and then wade a mile or two downstream.

Hopefully this article will help be a better trout fisherman in the summertime. It can be tough, and it is almost always hot, but the fishing can be worthwhile if you do it right. You probably won't catch as many fish as you did during the spring, but you can still find rewarding fishing.

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