Well, it is that time of year once again; when the leaves start changing colors, and your breathe wisps up in front of you in the crisp morning air. The vibrant colors beckon fisherman to their banks, hanging on to the season of fishing that fleetingly hangs on for however long mother nature decides.
And the trout, colored up and beautiful, gobble down the bugs that are still around, trying to get fat for the long winter ahead. Yes, this is certainly the best time of year to fish. However, it can be more challenging than the days of summer, where big dry flies and prolific hatches mean fisherman can chuck dry flys around and have a pretty good shot, most days at least. Luckily, I have compiled here my 5 best tips to make sure you keep the lines bent this fall!
1) Embrace the Rain!
Often times, anglers look outside and see rain and decide to hide inside and forego their fishing plans. DONT! Particularily in the fall, I’ve had some of my best fishing days in that consistent drizzle. In fact, these days usually offer the best dry fly fishing this time of year. You may have heard of the Blue-Winged Olive (BWO). It is a tiny green mayfly that hatches this time of year, usually when the weather is rainy or overcast. So instead of hiding away from the rain, stock up on BWO’s and head out to catch some rising fish!
2) Go Small and go deep
As mentioned, fall does not bring with it the prolific hatches of the summer time. Just because you dont see rising fish does not mean the fish arent eating. Actually, fish are usually feeding aggressively, but their primary food source is subsurface nymphs. Tiny size 16-20 bead head nymphs are absoultely the ticket this time of year, and if you methodically work the pools using small nymphs, you should have great success. These include: Copper Johns, Pheasant Tails, Bead Headed Prince, and the Hares Ear Nymph.
TIP: Try using these small nymphs as a tandem rig to cover more of the water column. Fish one slightly larger nymph, and using tippet, attach a smaller nymph 8″-12″ inches beneath it. This is a great tactic this time of year.
3)Fish during the heat of the Day
The night times and morning this time of year are very chilly. The best fishing this time of year will be during the warmest hours of the day, typically sometime between 11 am and 5 pm. This is when the water will warm up sufficiently to allow fish to begin feeding, and will also be the time when the few hatches that are still going on will occur. Me, I like to still get an early start and hike into a spot that I know will be good, allowing the water to warm up while I’m hiking and then begin fishing once I begin to warm up. Try to be at your favourite spot in that afternoon window when you will have the best shot.
4) Fish the Deep pools, deep banks, and Logjams
In the Summer, fishing riffles and tailouts can give good results. As fall progresses, fish will begin leaving these lies and move into the deeper water in preparation for winter. Waist deep troughs up against banks will almost always hold fish, and the pools will begin to fill up with fish later into the fall. Focus your fishing on these areas, and ignore the riffles and shallow tailouts. This will allow you to narrow down your casting options and focus on water where there is surely to be fish.
5) Savour every last fish!
Some years we can fish until the end of the open water season in october. Other seasons, the fishing will be no good by the end of September. It is entirely up to mother nature, and while its great to be optimistic about fishing into october, some years it’s just not realistic. For this reason, make sure you enjoy every last fish; maybe instead of fighting with it, trying to get an awkward iphone pic, just enjoy it;, the brilliant colors, the way it feels, the way it indignantly retreats back to shelter when you release it. It might be a long time yet before you catch another. So be thankful each and every time you hook up, and enjoy the fleeting days of fine fly fishing before winter.
Hopefully this list can help you get plenty more fish before the snow starts flying. Finally we have recieved some rain in Southern Alberta; something that hasnt really happened since June. But looking ahead, it does seem as though summer has officially left, There is lots more chilly, wet weather in the future, and while its been an ideal summer in terms of sunny days, it looks as though Fall might be a bit more variable. This might mean snow up high, which might mean an early conclusion to the season. So I mean it; get out now while you can!
Thanks for reading and tight lines, Bushwhackers!!