Such a great time of year, at least I think so. Fall colors with the leaves changing, cooler air, trout fishing, deer hunting, and football! Great times to be had for sure. Fishing on the lakes can be good as well, so let me not forget to mention that the bass action can be great this time of year too. But for me, trout fishing tends to be my choice of outings in the Fall.
Oh sure, it might be a stocked fish, but the colors on this brook trout are still awesome, and there are plenty of these guys in the rivers this time of year. Delayed Harvest rivers in NC have gone back to catch and release only and have been stocked with fish. The SC Delayed Harvest rivers will follow the same in November. Keep it simple with fly selection, a few wooly buggers, some worm and egg patters, a few stonefly nymphs, and some size 16 and 18 natural colored nymphs for the picky eaters and you are good to go. Wild trout waters will fish great now as well, although lack of rain has really lowered the flows in most places down to a trickle right now. Water temps are good, but flows, not so much. Hopefully we will get some much needed rain to help the stream flows out. In the mean time, the fish may be a little spookier than normal so you may need to go with longer leaders and drop the pound test size to get bites. Check the short video of one of my latest outings on the Facebook page.
Deer hunting also is in full swing, and I got on the board already this year with some meat for the freezer. And football is well into the season and there have been more than a fair share of entertaining games. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all just add to the magic of this time of year. Enjoy.
It’s no secret that we are dealing with the dog days of summer. Most days seem to creep up the mid to upper 90’s in temps and many days have a chance of afternoon thunderstorms. For most any fishing you want to do this time of year, going early in morning or late in the evening usually gives you a good chance to catch just about any fish you are after. Fishing in hottest part of the middle of the day can be a bit more of a challenge. I tend to do less trout fishing this time of year, but if I do trout fish it is usually in some higher elevation trout water that holds smaller wild fish. These areas tend to be cooler than anything else around here temperature wise, and the little wild fish will take dry flies pretty eagerly all summer. My daughter Sage and I did take a hike into such water a few weeks ago and had a fun time chasing the little wild trout around. Yellow bodied dry flies were the ticket.
Most of my fishing lately has been out on the lakes, chasing bass around when they are active, fishing for the panfish when all else seems quiet, and scouting out the carp. Bass fishing can still be good on most days during the hot summer, although you will certainly encounter periods where it can be slow going. Early morning and late evening tend to be best for top-water action, but keying around shady cover can produce fish most anytime with sinking presentations. River fishing for bass can be good all summer, and certainly smallmouth bass get put in the mix as well. I have caught some smallmouth this summer, although they were more of an opportunistic catch since I was not specifically targeting them.
Carp fishing on the fly is one of my newest endeavors, so much of it has been scouting out water that the carp are found in and then some trial and error on fly patterns and techniques. I hope to start offering guided trip services for fly fishing for carp, but I have more work to be done before I officially start doing that. I have found some locations that the carp tend to hang out in, now it is a matter of figuring out how to catch them somewhat consistently. For sure they are very smart, spooky, and finicky fish. They require pretty accurate presentations that land softly and longer casts might be necessary to not spook them. I have had most of my success early on with a black rubber legged girdle bug pattern, although I have plenty of more fly experimenting to do.
Lastly, the panfish can still be caught just about anytime are wanting to getting a fish on the end of your fly line. We caught numerous this week, and even found some fish back on beds as the full moon hit. Shady banks tend to produce better for the popping bug dropper combination, but throwing a sinking beadhead wooly bugger has produced fish just about anywhere.
Sometimes you have the luxury of planning an outing based on the best weather conditions. Other times, you just go when you have the chance, and deal with what comes. This week I was dealt a balmy 22 degrees and plenty of ice, but I decided to give it a go on some blue line wild trout water.
I started out with a double rig of a small black stonefly nymph trailed by a micro egg pattern in size 20. I have always have good success with a micro egg in wild trout water during cold winter months. I typically use the micro size because these fish tend to run in the 5 to 10 inch range, and larger egg patterns are difficult for the smaller fish to get hooked up on. The micro egg paid off again on this outing, as it was responsible for many of the fish I caught. I should take the time to mention that I used the largest sized split shot I had on me, as the fish were all holding in the deeper runs and pools.
Most of these fish required multiple drifts through the deepest runs and holes, and the takes were very soft and subtle. I was high stick nymphing without an indicator with my 8’6″ 3wt St. Croix Imperial rod. The rod has just the right amount of length to high stick fish with in the tighter wild trout streams. The Imperial also has a nice soft tip to it, making a good choice for protecting light tippet, as I was using a 6X fluoro tippet in what was very clear water. A few notes about fishing in these cold conditions: First, it is a good idea to take an extra set of clothes and leave them in the vehicle, just in case you take an unwanted fall and end up all wet. I did have an extra set of gloves in my pack as well, and needed them after my first set of gloves had gotten wet. Wet gloves do you no good in sub-freezing temps. A day in these conditions can be ruined quickly with an untimely slip. And speaking of slip, my next note is that you need to pay close attention to where you are stepping and walking. Most every surface that is wet, but not in the water itself, is covered with ice. So, when walking, you need to keep you feet in the water itself, or be stepping on dry rocks. Pay attention to what you are doing, fish thoroughly in the best areas and you can still have a very productive day.