If you ski, or know any skiers, you know the concept of a powder day. When 10” of beautiful powder falls on a Tuesday night in February, In Missoula, MT, a certain group of diehards fisherman are prepping their reason they can’t work the next morning. Bad stomach, headache, the dog ate my homework, all these are employed by erstwhile employees as they bag work and go skiing!
The Missoulian Angler Fly Shop and guides are well aware of the summer version of a powder day. It’s called a cloud day. We’re big sky country, and when the sun comes out for good in late June, the sky is azure blue with little rest from the sun. For the angler or the fish! Trout fishermen have sunglasses. Trout don’t even have eyelids. When the sky is high and bright, trout show up like beacons to overhead predators. Many trout choose to stay close to the bottom where the sun is less debilitating, and depth provides protection from overhead predators even when the hatch is going on.
Watch the summer weather reports closely in Missoula, MT. When they call for a cloudy day smack in the middle of a sunny spell, start thinking of your reason not to go to work. A cloudy day is the perfect storm for fly fishing. Mayflies will hatch in greater numbers when they have cloud cover. With no eyelids, the trout are more comfortable in the lower light. Additionally, cloud cover affects the ability of predators to locate prey in the water. Combine more insects, less predation and less ocular stress, and you have so many more fish moving to so many more insects on a cloudy summer day it can look like a battalion of kids tossing rocks in the water. As Missoulians well know, a cloudy day in summer is a rare treat for fisherman. Much like 10” of powder. So take advantage! Work on those symptoms, sound convincingly hoarse and stuffy, and then enjoy some of the best summer fishing you can get.