Today, I want to share with you some sound advice that will help improve your productivity next time you head out for some fall fly fishing.
The end of October can be a frustrating time to target trout on your local rivers and streams. It’s the time of the year when the glory hatches are over for the year, the leaf hatch is in full bloom, and catching generally gets more difficult. This is the time of the year I love. Most of the fair weather anglers have called it a year and there is noticeably more open water to choose from. The trout are indeed more challenging to catch, but, when you do get them to the net, they tend to be colored up and in my opinion the best they look all year.
Due to work and family I hadn’t fished in over two weeks. I knew we were forecast for big rains this coming weekend so my only chance to fish was this past Friday. I got to the river at 9 am…which is a late start for my typical first-light starting times. The air temp was 42, the river was at 150 cfs, and the water was clear. There was very little wind and not much of a leaf hatch to start the day. I would call this ideal conditions for this time of year.
I’ve been fishing dries a lot lately but knew my best bet was going to be nymphs to start. So I started with a pair of nymphs on my Euro rig, tightlining some likely holding water. It felt a little weird to be nymphing again but it felt right when on my third drift my sighter paused, I set the hook and started to dance with this beauty before eventually putting him in the net. Needless to say, it was a great way to start the day.
To be honest the day started with a bang and didn’t stop. Without moving my feet, and a few more good drifts, I was on to a nice holdover rainbow. I moved down a few feet and with another good drift again my sighter paused, and I was linked up with another good one. Man, it must be my day.
It didn’t stop from there. It seemed like everywhere I set up and made a good presentation I was linked up with another beauty. Life was good and then as fate would have it an email comes through on my phone and it came to an abrupt end as I had to walk back to my car to log into my computer for a work matter…doesn’t it figure? I wasn’t happy about having to take a break from this good fishing but on the walk back I put on an indicator and drifted my nymphs as I walked which added another two fish to my count putting me at nine, with five over 16″ in one hour of fishing.
So, the morning was a mixed bag. The fishing was great, but, at the first two spots, I fished I was forced to go back to my car for work. I caught fish everywhere, and, believe it or not, the prettiest wild of the day swam out of my net before I could get a picture. That fish was only 15″ but an absolute stunner…wish I could have gotten a picture.
Now, for the advice I want to share. I just told you about a great morning but that’s largely due to being a little lucky and quickly figuring out what they were eating, and, of course, knowing where the fish were. Most of you will know where the fish are, but, not necessarily what they are eating this time of year as there aren’t a lot of bugs in the water.
A little later in the day, I went up river to meet up with a young man named Justin (@fishing1999 on Instagram) that I’ve been helping over the past year. I really didn’t care if I caught any more fish at this point. I just wanted to say hello and to see how he was doing. So, we linked up at a section of river with lots of pocket water and short runs that I knew holds fish.
We stood together in the river talking about our day and what was working. I made a few good drifts over a stretch of water that I knew held fish and nothing, not a bump. I told Justin to get in there with a different pair of nymphs to see what he could do. He did exactly what I asked of him. He threw his nymphs up to where I told him and had contact with his flies for a good 15 to 20 drifts and nothing, not a bump, even though his form was spot on.
I said to Justin I knew for a fact we were over fish and that we weren’t presenting what they wanted. Most people would walk to the next stretch of fishy water and forget about it, but, you would be leaving fish behind. While Justin was fishing I was changing my nymphs. When he finished I walked right back in and made the same exact drift, except this time, it was success and I brought a healthy rainbow to the net.
The lesson to be learned here is when you know you’re standing over fish and getting good drifts make sure you are rotating your patterns. If you get five to 10 good drifts over a fish and you don’t get a hit, rotate your flies and show them something else. This is what I do in the fall when I know I’m standing over fish. It may take a little bit of work to rotate your patterns, but, in the fall, when there isn’t a hatch, this is often necessary to stay productive.
In closing my best patterns were various Frenchies. Pink ice dub was #1, and a purple ice dub peacock body tag nymph was also productive. Get out and have some fun catching fall browns.
Until next time, tight lines.