1. Fish Deep. You all have been swimming in a lake where the top layer of water is warm, then you dive to find that it cools drastically about 10 foot down. The Rogue Steelhead are masters at finding the, comfort of the right temperature of water. People look at me funny when I pull out the heaver tips and fish the deep stuff in summer, but if your having a hard time in the heat try it .
2. Fish the Shade. This goes without saying, but I see people standing in the mid day sun and fish the same run they fish for winters. The classic steelhead run is 4 to 6 feet of water and is moving at the same speed as you can walk--not in summer if the sun is high and the water is warming, the fish are cold blooded animals, they cant sweat they need to find the cooler areas of the river.
3. Fish Structure, this is much like fishing shade, but what I'm referring to are the ledges and boulders that are under water. I found this theory one day when I was snorkeling the deep holes on the Chetco. If you have ever swam in the Chetco during the summer you know how warm it could get. I snorkeled the river to clean it up after fishing season. One day I saw a lure that was tucked under a basalt ledge. it wasn't Particularly deep so I took a gulp of air and dove to it, once I got to the edge of the ledge I could feel the water cool. Under the ledge it mus have dropped more than 5 degrees. Trout were stacked in that cooler water--steelhead are no different.
4. Use Big Dark Flies. Dark because you don't have to worry about off colored water as you would during high spring and winter flows, and big because, much like winter, you have to move their lazy butts. the fish slow down in warm water as much as they do in cold water, you have to play on their predatory instincts. Just look at what your plug pulling friends are using, I guarantee their plugs are bigger, and move more, than most of the flies we fish, yet they catch a ton of fish. Why is that? They have tapped into the predatory instinct that all steelhead have to act on, our flies should do the same.
These are just sole of the tricks I have came up with over they years. Give them a shot on your water. I have included a couple videos to illustrate the above points. Don't let the heat get you down.
Fishing Summer Holds
You Need Movement