Fall is here and our rivers are in great shape. This summer’s rains have kept area streams higher and cooler than usual, and it turns out the fish like that!
We had one of the best Augusts in recent memory on our local trout streams and September has been just as good. October should only get better. As the days get shorter and the nights cooler, the trout will enter fall mode. Brookies will start spawning fairly soon, if not already in some places, and the browns are not far behind them. Leading up to this, these fish get both hungrier and more aggressive, which is a lovely combination for fly anglers.
We are seeing some hatches of Cahills in size 14 to 16 in the evenings as well as tan and olive caddis in the same sizes. Isonychias are also around with decent spinner falls right at dusk. On cloudy, cooler days look for Blue Winged Olives in size 18 and smaller. Terrestrials are still producing–hoppers, Chubby Chernobyls, beetles and ants will take fish on the surface.
Dry/dropper set-ups are my favorite way to fish this time of year and should still be effective for another few weeks. I pair a Chubby with a size 12 Zug Bug or pheasant tail and that usually does the trick for me. If needed I will swap around the nymph until I key in on what they will take: smaller hare’s ears, bigger hare’s ears, BWO nymphs (small PTs will work for this), caddis larva or pupa. For the top fly, my rule of thumb is to use a bigger one in higher water and go smaller in lower water. Tan or golden are good colors.
For straight nymphing, I will usually pair a Pat’s Rubber Legs with similar flies as above. One thing I do add in this time of year is larger nymphs with some orange in them to suggest the big October caddis that are around. Probably because of this caddis activity, I find swinging wet flies and soft hackles can be really effective this time of year as well. Big and orange is a good place to start.
This is also a great time of year to exploit the aggressive behavior of the pre-spawn browns by tossing streamers. These fish are eating more in anticipation of the energy they will need for the spawn and they are getting more territorial and, overall, just more ornery. Sculpin imitations like Bank Robbers, Headbangers and Sculpin Bunnies are always good on the Deerfield and area freestones. But flashier and bigger streamers will also have their place as bigger browns stake out their spawning grounds and chase away smaller fish. If you are interested in taking your streamer fishing to the next level, join us Oct. 15 as Brian Gilbert of Hilltown Anglers offers a four-hour streamer clinic that includes on-stream time. Check our website for more details and cost.
Also, we are expecting a reload on some great streamers from Rich Strolis early next week! These are great patterns to have for the fall.
On the Deerfield, be aware that Bardwell’s Ferry Bridge has been closed to car traffic (you can still walk across it).
On the Swift, it is business as usual. There are some hatches of small blue winged olives. Dry dropper with a smaller PMX can be effective as will beetles and ants. Before it gets too bright out you can do well with junk like eggs and worms or jigging small leech patterns. Much of the time, it is the small stuff that works best, particularly on the surface as the day goes on.
Small streams have been fishing great this year and that will continue as fall settles in. Here, and on the Swift, be mindful that brookies are starting to spawn. Avoid trampling over the redds and leave fish alone when you see them on the redds. Those big browns and rainbows eating eggs downstream of redds on the Swift are fair game though!
Warmwater fishing is still decent, Topwater is winding down but still worth trying here and there, particularly on warmer days. You will likely have more success fishing streamers and bottom crawling patterns like crayfish.
Pike fishing should continue to improve as the weather cools.
We will start offering more tying classes and events as October rolls on–check our website and social media for updates. We also are in the planning stages of some great educational programs for 2024 so keep your eyes peeled for more info coming.
Get out there and take advantage of one of the best times of year!