Trout fishing in the high country during summer can enter the daytime doldrums, but monsoon-generated rain showers can radically alter the equation.
"When those billowing thunderstorms start building in the mountains, the barometer drops, the insects come out but fly low in the sky, prompting the trout to feed actively. That means it's time to grab your fishing pole and go catch some tasty salmonids for dinner," said Rory Aikens, the Fishing Report editor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Aikens said the most active trout will be near the surface to gobble up flying insects that have fallen into the water, or those flying just above the surface. Most traditional trout fishing techniques will work at this time, but the best fishing techniques will mimic the conditions.
"Even if you are not a fly angler, you can still take advantage of these trout feeding habits. You don't necessarily need a fly rod to fish flies," Aikens said.
Aikens suggests using what is called a casting bubble with a tapered fly line attached, and of course, a fly. "Drop by any fly fishing shop or the major sporting goods stores and they can help you select the right tackle. It's a whole lot of fun. Youngsters love it because they can often see the trout hitting their offering at the surface."
Simply cast the bubble with the leader and fly attached, and then slowly reel it in with stop-and-go action. "Experiment; sometimes little flicks of the wrist to make the fly dart will prompt a predator reaction from the trout. Get creative," he suggests.
Live insects can also work very well, such as grasshoppers or cicadas. "Hoppers are a lot of fun for youngsters to catch along those meandering high country meadows. They make superb bait," he said.
But once the thunderstorms get underway and lightning is flashing across the mountain skies, seek some shelter. "Our new graphite fishing poles are superb lightning rods. You don't want one in your hands when lightning is about -- it can be a shocking experience," Aikens said.
However, he added, the cloud cover and cooling rains also open up other opportunities in the mountains -- wildlife watching. "During the heat of summer, a lot of the larger mammals such as deer and elk are not very active during the day. Cooling thunderstorms can change that situation," Aikens said.