Updated: May 29
Before I ever picked up a fly rod I spent my summertime sitting next to a farm pond catching bass and panfish. The bluegill were easy, the fish don't seem to tire of eating worms. Minnows would swim through the lily pads and a frog would plop in. Occasionally a catfish or little bass may come along, exciting for sure, but that style of fishing was still not enough excitement to keep me from trout fishing as I got older.
For many years I was a hardcore trout only fly fisherman. If it was the summer and too warm, then fishing season was over until the Fall. It wasn't until I moved to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia that I started making the best of the warmer months and fishing throughout the Summer. For those who don't know, water temperatures in Virginia get into the 65-75 degree range on trout streams. Above 70 oxygen dissolves differently in water, making it difficult for trout to breathe, and therefore a lot more stressful to recover after getting caught. Also, generally lower water levels make some streams virtually unfishable as they become a series of puddles. This the time to use your best judgement on protecting trout so either sit out July-September, travel, or fish the warm water species. River and local lake access are plentiful around here and you don't have to plan a long trip just to get a line wet.
I usually travel with my same 5 weight fishing rod and floating line. I have a selection of streamers, but a few topwater poppers, wooly buggers, and a crayfish pattern in really all you need. When fishing for bass I go with a 1x or 2x leader depending on the size of the flies. This stouter tippet helps turn the flies over better and reduce line shock. That's it, no vest full of boxes, floatant, indicators. We just cast and retrieve the fly back and see what fish are hungry. Vary twitch speeds of retrieval to mimic an injured animal. Looks for weeds, vegetation, or shallow water to drop-offs. Keep the fly moving as bass generally take smaller fish when they are moving away from them.
This type of fishing is simple and the fish usually are cooperative. Its not too hard to catch a dozen fish in an hour at a local park pond. You get to practice casting and setting the hook, which is the best way to become a better trout fisherman. You learn the most by doing, and it's a great way to gets kids involved as well. They can hone their fishing skills as fish bite stays good throughout the day. They stay interested and can practice catch and release ethics, too. One of my favorite fishing trips is tubing down a local river with my son and we stop in a few holes on the way, fly fishing for bass, sunfish, and redeyes. If you want to lure in the big fish I go up to an 8-weight rod. Trophy bass can get into the 15-20 pound range and really put a bend in your rod tip. The best time to catch these big bass is early in the morning or a dusk. These bass take their prey at low light situations where they can ambush them. If you can access kayak or bass boat and go fishing where most people can't get to. You might have to cover a lot of water for the best bass fishing, but that time on the water will be worth it.
Bass spawn in late spring and you can see giant bass sitting on beds outside edge of the lakes and ponds. Go bass fishing and hit your local pond or river and catch more fish. A little practice and you'll be better for your next trout trip and some of those bass can get really big. You might get a 10 pounder larger than any trout you ever had on!