Get that DX QSL even during the solar minimum.
to enjoy Ham Radio during the bottom of the 11-year solar cycle can
be a test of your temperament.  In the hope that this and associated documents might be of value to the aspiring as well as the accomplished amateur operator the documents will include references to amateur license test questions. As the general class license test makes clear
"10, 12, and 15 meters are least reliable for long-distance communications during periods of low solar activity".
In recent times the maximum usable frequency (MUF)
has rarely risen above 14 MHz, meaning QSOs on 17, 15, 12, and 10 meters
are hard to come by. Indeed, as I write this on the evening of
10/01/19 here in Alabama the MUF is 5MHz.
Study for the general class license reminded us "higher sunspot numbers generally indicate a greater probability of good propagation at higher frequencies".
Recently we have had no sunspot activity.  In addition, the summer
months see an increase in noise on the HF bands, which only deepens
the suffering.  As you learned taking your general class license "high levels of atmospheric noise or "static" is typical of the lower HF frequencies during summer".
Elevation of the noise floor will raise the LUF, and that same general class test teaches us "no HF radio frequency will support ordinary skywave communications over the path" when "the LUF exceeds the MUF".
Solar flux is used as the basic indicator of solar activity, and is measured in Solar Flux Units (SFU).   Our general class test pointed at that this solar flux index is "a measure of the solar radiation at 10.7 centimeters wavelength".  The index can vary from 50 to 300.   As I write this on 10/2/19 the index is 69.  Another element of the general class test tells us that the 20 meter band usually supports worldwide propagation during daylight hours.  During this solar minimum your mileage may vary. When there are sunspots they will remain for a time on an area of the sun.  The sun rotates on its axis every 28 days and so those sunspots and increased DX opportunities will recur every 28 days.  This is why the general class test question states that "the sun's rotation on its axis causes HF propagation conditions to vary periodically in a roughly 28 day cycle".
However, the summer months can bring opportunities to DXers by utilizing propagation ordinarily utilized by the VHF crowd.   These VHF Hams routinely make QSOs on 50 MHz and up.   To them, mid-May to mid-August on the ultra-highs offers exciting propagation modes whose openings have nothing to do with the 11-year solar cycle.   Some of the following propagation modes utilize the ionosphere, but in a manner more amenable to solar minimum conditions.   With persistence, patience, and skill you can make that QSO on many bands.  And if you’re a Technician, these tips can help you do more with your license, because you have full privileges on all frequencies above 50 MHz. Many Hams have HF all-mode radios that include 6 meters, and some of the DC-to-daylight rigs have 2 meters and 70 centimeters as well.   If you haven’t explored these additional bands, you are leaving some QSOs on the table during this time of low sunspot activity.
There are a few forms of propagation that DXers can use to their advantage during these difficult times.   Among these are: sporadic-E, tropospheric ducting, tropospheric scatter, tropospheric super-refraction, grey line, and aurora.   In general, the tropospheric propagation will be most useful in VHF and UHF bands, but frequently in the VHF bands.
There are many propagation modes for RF including(depending on frequency) Line-of-Sight, Sporadic E, F2, Ionospheric Scatter, Field Aligned Irregularities (FAI), Meteor Scatter, Aurora, Aircraft Scatter, Tropospheric Ducting, EME, TransEquatorialPropagation (TEP), and Tropospheric Scatter (Troposcatter).
At microwave frequencies we have Line-of-Sight, EME, Aircraft Scatter, Rain/Snow Scatter, Knife-Edge Diffraction, Tropospheric Ducting, and Troposcatter.
I will present here a just a few of the strategies that you might employ to get that DX contact in the time of the solar minimum.  You aren't apt to get the 'round the world long distance HF DX that you could get from regular ionospheric propagation, but with these methods on the right day and time can get you a few thousand miles.  Meteor Scatter will be covered at a later date.   For the TLDR crowd I'll offer below the following TOMB (Too oversimplified, minimally beneficial) table that grossly simplifies the utilization of these propagation modes.
|Band(meters) or Condition||Tropospheric Ducting||Sporadic E||Aurora||Tropospheric Scatter||Grey Line|
|Conditions||Warm cloudless days with||Summer. Sporadic ionized clouds.||Sporadic||Various irregularies||Dawn and dusk|
|Conditions||little or no wind.||No correlation with sunspots.||Higher latitudes||in troposphere||Spring and Autumn|
|Conditions||Best for flat landers.||Strongest around summer solstice.||Bands enhanced||Brief 45-60 minutes|
|Conditions||Single bounce ~300miles||depend on intensity.||Primarily north-south|
|Prediction||See text.||Impossible to predict||See text for resources.||Impossible to predict||Twice daily.|
|Layer||Troposphere||Ionosphere E layer||Ionosphere||Troposphere||Ionosphere F layer|
|160||Intensity dependent||Extremely rare||Extremely brief window, unreliable|
|80||Intensity dependent||Extremely rare||very brief window, reliable|
|40||Extremely rare||Intensity dependent||Extremely rare||Brief window except trans-polar, reliable|
|30||rare||Intensity dependent||rare||Brief window, reliable|
|20||rare||Intensity dependent||rare||somewhat brief window, reliable||17||rare||Intensity dependent||rare||somewhat brief window, reliable|
|12||rare||often in summer||Intensity dependent||rare||reliable|
|10||rare||Frequently in summer||Intensity dependent||rare||reliable|
|6||more likely||Frequently in summer||Intensity dependent||rare||frequent|
|2||more likely||Frequently in summer||Intensity dependent||sporadic||rare|
|1.25||more likely||Sometimes in summer||Intensity dependent||sporadic|
|0.7||more likely||Intensity dependent||sporadic|
|0.33||somewhat likely||Intensity dependent||sporadic|