The September Blues

It was a lot of labor on Labor Day!

My wife surprised me by giving me a last-minute hall pass to fish on the holiday. I debated until the morning of as to where to go. In fact, I decided while I was driving to hit the Deerfield.

I was pretty indifferent regarding location, as fishing for me tends to be slow in September, regardless of venue. I have a fishing journal that documents all that for me. I’ve caught the hit-or-miss ant swarm here and there, and I am an early riser, and so, try to target Tricos.

But, when there isn’t a bunch of bugs in the water, I’ve found that trout in September are tough to dupe. The September Blues.

My journal entries show that fishing really picks up in October. Maybe it is pre-spawning behavior or, at some rivers, the arrival of new stockies. The latter creates more competition for food. So, my recommendation is to skip September.

The drive to the river was beautiful. Fog covered a good chunk of the final 10 miles.

I started at Spot A, which has historically done well for me. I brought rods for both dries and tightlining and proceeded to work. A Stonefly shuck seemed like a good omen.

I threw everything I had using a variety of techniques and flies and couldn’t move a single fish. I mean, absolutely nothing. I kept at it until the sun hit the river, and I decided to move on.

I drove downriver to a new spot, bypassing a bunch of areas where cars were already parked. I didn’t want to horn in on anyone and kept driving until I saw an opening on the side of the road near a stretch of river that looked promising.

There, I again attempted my best and again emerged empty-handed. The water was a fine 65 °F. Flies that usually produced were getting blanked, there were some Midges and some small Mayflies in the air, and I saw no trout. I reeled up.

I drove to Spot C. I figured it would be my last spot for the day.

A take! The fish bounced right away. I rotated flies and worked the area as thoroughly as possible.

Another take! I had a lot of line out and a very heavy fly on. I stripped line quickly. But, the trout shook its head a few times and unceremoniously spit out the barbless hook.

At this point, I was sweating a storm. The heat and humidity were both very high. Even though I was wading deep, I could feel my energy start to ebb.

So, I put on a new fly and started to work downstream back to my car. I waded even deeper just to cool off, and I just started to quarter down the fly and let it swing at the end, taking a few steps after each cast.

Suddenly, there was a strong take, a large rainbow leapt in the air, and I was finally in business.

I was hoping with all hope that the fish would stay on. It pulled a few times, but side pressure quickly horsed it in. At last, a fish in the net!

It was a beauty. The rainbow taped at 16″. With that, it was 11 am, and I reeled up. It was a lot of driving for 4.5 hours of fishing, but I was more than happy with that one fish.

It felt good and right to call it a day.

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13 thoughts on “The September Blues

  1. My Labor Day weekend was similar. I hit the Swift Saturday and Sunday, given the nicer weather, and was rewarded with a sea of rainbow trout failing to take anything. It’s sight fishing water of course, so I saw all the refusals. Tightlining, euro nymphing, dry flies, streamers, it didn’t matter what technique you used. I did manage to bring in a few of the native brook trout, and finally seduced one of the rainbow trout, but otherwise, similar frustration abound. The only solace I take is that those fishing around me were also struggling, with only one or two rainbows caught, and only a few more brook trout.

  2. I went on the Deerfield on Saturday and had a similar experience, though the air temp was considerable more cool. I started at 7 am at one of my favorite runs and got nada action. Moved to another place. Nothing. Moved to another place. Nil. Finally at my fourth spot was able to take 4 on a small caddis dry and 2 on a Pat’s Rubber Legs. The largest was 15.5 inches. Caught a brown, rainbows, and brookies. Went to two more spots after that and got skunked there. Drove back to Arlington at 1pm feeling pretty good thanks to that one spot.

  3. September blues indeed! I found that this time of year is tough too since there isn’t much hatching. I heard of similar conditions on the Androscoggin River. In that case I think it has more to do with warmer water than anything else. Usually the fishing will pick up at the end of the month when BWO, October caddis, and Iso hatches start up. Luckily small streams are fishing well otherwise I might lose my mind this time of year!

  4. Sounds like it was a great trip! I have been having a bit of luck with searching with a big terrestrial with a follow up of a tiny midge or midge emerger that I let get pulled just under and ride in the film with a momentary bit of drag. the big fly allows me to see if the tiny fly has gotten snagged! To be fair, i am seriously looking forward to Oct so my waders aren’t a personal sauna anymore. Tight-lines guys!

  5. I am glad you connected on the Deerfield, Jo. You earned that big rainbow.

    I mostly fish Bondsville Swift and fishing has been quite slow the last three weeks, even slower with the sudden increased flow. A few connections have been made, however, on bead head PT and Hare’s Ear Nymphs. Strange thing is most every connection has resulted in a long distance release. I’m not sure why that is, except maybe the trout aren’t taking the sub surface fly as aggressively as earlier in the season and are just barely hooked. Same thing happened on a dry fly parachute adams also just this past week. I thought sure that nice brown hooked on top would come to net, but that was LDR’d also. That was a real head scratcher.

    Regards, Sam

      1. Any connections are appreciated and satisfying this time of year, Jo. I did bring to net last night a couple of colorful brook trout with a Fran Betters Usual top fly and midge dropper. One hit the Usual, the other the midge underneath. Both hits looked the same with an aggressive splash on each connection. Love those brook trout, both released with no worse for wear, barbless hook slipping out easily.

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