Oh, the fall. It brings us colorful foliage, football, fresh apple cider, and big ornery brown trout. When the mercury begins to take the plunge and daylight starts to dwindle, big mature brown trout start their yearly routine of procreation.
What follows is a feeding binge of mature trout. Fish that have been uncatchable all summer throw caution to the wind. This is not the time for small flies and delicate presentations. Big gaudy nymphs and large streamers are the name of the game in fall. Large stonefly patterns like Girdle Bugs and Pat’s rubber legs are good choices as are the usual generic mayfly patterns like Hare’s Ears and Pheasant Tails, just opt for a size 8 instead of an 18. My personal favorite fall flies are streamers, and something with a little bit of color too. For some reason big fall browns seem to like streamers with a bit of orange in them. Sculpin patterns can be especially deadly this time of year. Whether it be the giant protein-packed snack a big sculpin delivers or a triggered attack response implanted in trout to protect their roe, it should be used to your advantage.
It is also the time for stealth. With overly large trout sometimes holding in ridiculously shallow water, being sneaky pays huge dividends. Wear drab colored shirts at the very least. Even a camouflage jacket is not too far fetched.
I normally work a river upstream, but this is not the case when fishing fall streamers. I’ll work it down. I can be much quieter and more stealthy when walking with the current as opposed to against it. If possible, stay on the bank as much as you can. Most fish will hit on the swing, so the area you expect the take to come will be downstream of your location. If you were working upstream, you could have already spooked a fish. Cast across, swing it down, take a few sneaky steps down stream, think about it, cast across, swing it down.
Walking the river is crucial. Don’t just haphazardly crash through the water on your way to a good run. Hunt the river this time of year. Take a few steps and watch. This is where a good pair of polarized glasses are worth their weight in gold. Look over the entire stream, not just the typical haunts. You may be pleasantly surprised and amazed by what you’ll see. Trout will still be positioned in good usual runs too, but much more apt to attack your offering.
Instead of heading to the deer stand or taking up a spot on the couch to watch the big game, get out on the stream. Just maybe, a kyped-up, big old slab of spotted butter will end up in your net.
Jerrod Vila is a simple guy from Upstate New York with a passion for fly fishing, cooking, and predator hunting. For more tips and videos check out www.downwindoutdoors.com and www.beyondthecrosshair.com.