The nights are getting colder, the days are getting shorter, and the leaves are starting to show signs of Autumn. As the weather starts to cool coming out of summer and going into Fall a lot of anglers start to hang up their gear and make preparations for the coming season. Sometimes it is simply that the weather is too cold to be fishing in some areas. The idea that the fishing slows near the end of the year could not be further from the truth. To me this is the time of year when it picks up and the fishing is exceptional. Fall is the time where I seem to catch larger fish, more fish, and they seem to be feistier. So instead of hanging up your gear buy yourself some warm clothing and gear up for the water. Here are five tips to help you have successful and fun fishing that could rival any summer season fishing.
Explore for new spots
Often in the Fall, especially late Fall, the water level on rivers can be at its lowest since the spring melt. This opens up many wading and exploring opportunities. When the water gets lower and colder, we will talk water temp later, the fish congregate into deep pools. Since access to different sections and areas of the rivers is now easier put on some waders or get yourself a pair because exploring this during this time is loads of fun. I have found great fishing holes that have been holding some of the bigger fish I have caught. It makes for exciting fishing and adventure.
Watch the water temp
Water temperature is very crucial to fish behavior. The fish feeding behavior is more or less dictated by the water temperature. The colder it is the more lethargic they are and less likely to spend a lot of energy in faster water trying to get food. As water warms up the more active and willing they are to spend the energy in faster moving water to feed or chase food. So time your fishing adventure accordingly to what you think the water temperature is going to be like. The water will usually be colder in the mornings and will warm up as the day goes on in early Fall. In late fall the water temperature may not change a whole lot throughout the day. So if you like fishing when the fish will probably be more active then sleep in a little and go out later. If you do not care, like me, and are willing to try anytime of day go out in the morning.
Water temperature will also dictate what kind of flies you are using. If the water temperature is warmer and you are noticing more activity tie on a streamer or a dry if a small hatch is going on. Let the temperature be your guide.
Something to add about water temperature is that it is always good to keep a cheap thermometer on you. It has helped me read the water better and find the fish quicker when going off of water temperature. So it does not hurt, you might get teased taking water temperature as you fish but that will all stop once you start bringing in more fish.
Streamers can be super effective
Streamers are meant to replicate larger food sources for the trout. In early Fall streamers can bring out the larger fish from their hiding spots. If you are familiar with Brown trout this is the time that they start to become more active. Brown trout start to spawn in Fall unlike Rainbow Trout and Cutthroat trout that like to spawn in the Spring and Summer. They also seem, to me at least, to become a little more aggressive. The streamers take advantage of this spawning behavior and get them to take the streamer.
Streamers in general are a good fly to use if you are trying to target larger fish. Although it is my belief that large fish can be caught on any size fly, it makes sense that if you are using a larger streamer the larger fish are going to target it. Larger fish need more calories and energy so they are going to go after larger food sources. While fishing with these streamers take time to test out the banks of the river. Sometimes there can be large fish in areas that you wouldn't think they could stay.
A terrestrial fly is basically anything that has fallen from the bank into the water. These can include ants, beetles, and hoppers. As these insects are active and have a higher chance to fall in the water the trout tend to target these insects. There are some times where the fish can be active enough to make you think that a hatch is happening even though you may not see any other evidence of it. Usually this could mean that they are feeding on some type of terrestrial. Some famous fly anglers have even said that this period in the Fall can "rival" even the best spring hatches.
Some of the more popular terrestrial flies can include a winged ant or a small hopper pattern. Usually your local fly shop will know and have the best terrestrial fly to use in your area.
Shake things up
When using the previously mentioned flies, streamers and terrestrials, do not be afraid of adding a little motion to them. Sometimes it is the thing that will cause a reaction strike or just piss off the fish enough for it to take your fly. At the same time it makes the fly seem more realistic and can sometimes convince the fish enough to go after it.
When fishing with a streamer try stripping your fly line in at different speeds or use your rod to add the motion at the end of the swing. With dry flies just add a little twitch with your rod, just enough to move it a little and make it seem like it is struggling in the water. Sometimes a little motion is needed to get the attention of the fish.
Fall can be the best time to catch the best fish of the year. With the change of season though, it sometimes means a change in some tactics. As the water level goes down and the water temperature starts to get colder the fish will start to change their behavior. This means you need to fish with different tactics. Some of the best are using streamers and terrestrials. Others being just trying a different part of the river now that you can access it easier. Whatever it is if you apply these five tips you will find that you have a more enjoyable time catching more fish in the Fall.