Cold Afternoon Outing

I got out briefly this afternoon. The water was a balmy 38˚, there was already ice on the banks, and the water was a little on the high side. Still, the fish were biting and the action started right away. The close seam in a nice pool produced two brookies and one rainbow. The brookies were a pleasant surprise. Both fish were dark and one was especially beautiful with blue halos.

Crossing over to the other side of the river, I took another bow. These fish looked somewhat worse for wear. They had fin wear, missing scales, and one had a beat up jaw. Still, they fought very well; digging deep, running downstream, and heading towards cover. Both the brookies took midges and the bows preferred egg patterns.

After this last bow, the action slowed greatly. I worked my way downstream through some nice holding water with only one fish landed. Sometimes fall fishing is like this. The action can be either unreal or dead at times. Factors such as the angle of the sun and air temperature have profound effects on the fishing. Still, I didn’t want to stick around any longer since my fingers lost dexterity. Overall, I went five-for-six, and it was a great to finally get out this weekend.


12 thoughts on “Cold Afternoon Outing

  1. Great post! It’s great you were able to land so many fish so quickly in the cold. And, your post is up to 80 views after just one partial day!

  2. Well done, Ashu, on a cold day. Fishing the lower Swift for a few hours Sunday afternoon, temps were in the mid 40’s when I started, mid 30’s when I called it quits at 4:45 or so. No action whatsoever. You’re right about fall fly fishing, sometimes they just don’t want to hit, the river almost appearing to be lifeless. After drifting numerous sub surface offerings with no action, I tried floating and moving an elk hair caddis around some proven holding zones hoping to provoke a hit, but nothing doing.

    Regards, Sam

    1. Ashu, next time out I will try areas below route 9. Hope it’s not too crowded, which is the main reason I fish where I do most times.

      1. Hi Sam, this time of year can be the most forgiving, if you target redds. Many anglers have chosen not to do so, but more than many do because the fishing is so easy.

        Find some redds where brookies are staging to spawn and clustered together. Below them will be rainbows waiting to gobble eggs. Stand upstream of them and swing a small soft hackle with orange on it. The orange will remind them of an egg. Or, swing a fly you can see, like a white streamer.

        Bright and small SJWs and eggs can also do the trick if you’re below them and creep up on them. No indicator. Watch the bright fly and set the hook if it disappears or you feel the line tighten or jerk. Both the brookies and rainbows should be in a mood to strike, either due to territoriality or hunger.

        Whether you do this or not is up to you. Some anglers think it is unethical. Others do not. The choice is yours.

    2. I suspect the fish in the winter will be hunkered down in the quiet and deep pools. I will write a post about it.

  3. I agree with Jo. The upper section of the Swift will have more optimal temperatures this time of year (low 50’s compared to 40’s in the lower river). As far as ethics, you can specifically target the feeding fish rather than the spawning fish. Also, the ones focused explicitly on spawning will not strike since their mind is elsewhere. I’ve heard elsewhere that Bondsville isn’t fishing particularly well this fall, which is strange considering that they stocked bows in October. Usually, bows in this part of the country (wild or stocked) are hardwired to eat eggs and put on weight. Part of the reason it’s not fishing well may be due to the fact that it is more like a freestone than the upstream sections and since there it is mostly wild brook trout water. Last year, I fished a white mountains stream twice in September. First time around, I caught fish everywhere. Second time around (2 weeks later), I only caught one and saw three. I later found out that during the spawn, the fish move off to spawn or are plain not interested in eating in some cases (it gets tough). If Bondsville isn’t fishing all that well, I would move upstream and fish where there are more fish anyways. Also, Jo may be right in the sense that these fish are done spawning and just hunkered down. In that case, you will have to add weight and hit them on the nose to get hit. The heavy riparian cover and shade in Bondsville probably doesn’t help much either (at least in fall). Usually, I have luck in areas where the sun can shine when it gets cold. Tight lines!

    1. The lower Swift is also catch and keep so the bait anglers may have cleared out some of the fish (at least the bows). I saw a huge family with buckets and spinning rods up near the Pipe (where it is C&R now) so it must be worst downstream. I’ve had the majority of my success this fall in C&R areas.

    2. I this winter will be fooling around below Bondsville to see how it fishes.

      As long as there is food in the drift, I’ve found that fish will be active. I’ve pulled out trout at a freestone in February, when the water was 33 °F and the air was 0 °F (cf. this post). And, snow was starting to blow down. For some reason, winter stoneflies were in the drift.

      Once eggs disappear, I think that’s when fish start finding winter lies, at least at the Farmington from what I’ve seen.

      They hang back in the deep holes. If there is enough food, such as during a Midge or Winter Caddis hatch, they’ll move forward to position themselves. Then, back again once the bug activity ameliorates. Back and forth all winter, depending on the biomass in the water.

  4. I hope to see you both around Bondsville this winter being I fish it most every month of the year. Thanks to both you and Ashu on some tips to get some action.

    I agree with you guys that the catch and keep gang takes a lot of fish out of there. I would hope they leave the brookies be, but I doubt it. A week or so ago I got hung up and dredged up some kind of bait rig with two big sinkers on it and a rubber worm hanging off. I took it back to the truck with me to throw away when I called it quits.

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