My favorite color is October, I have seen that message come across my Facebook page several times in the last few days. Usually the statement is accompanied with a picture of some trees in full Autumn splendor. I must say October is one of my favorite months of the year. I love the crispness of the fall air. I do enjoy the sight of the trees as the green leaves of Summer give way to the oranges, yellows, and reds of the Fall season. I like the look of a partially combined corn field, a sight common during the harvest time of the year. Yes, if you are an outdoor enthusiast like me, October is hard to beat. The trees and foliage aren't the only things in nature that don their Sunday best in October...
With the night time temperatures dipping into the forties on some occasion and as we await the first frost on the pumpkin that can only mean one thing, Fall Trout season is here! As typical this time of year we will head to our favorite Wild Brown Trout river and try our luck. Two or Three text messages the night before and the plans were set. "One Boot" Ed and I were to meet at 9:30, drive to our destination and fish the day. My Streamer box was recently filled and I was ready for what was sure to be a good day pitching some new patterns I have been working on.
I call this my Minnie Meat Locker. All sub 3" patterns, most of them are articulated. My favorites from Kelly Galloup, Rich Strolis, and a few of my patterns are here. As we rigged at the truck I opted for my 6 wt. I know, heavy rod for a wild trout river in our area, but when you are planning on dredging the bottom with a weighted fly and or a 6 foot Versa Leader you will be glad you took a little more stick. One pattern I was really excited to try came from my buddy Mark Erdsoy from This River Is Wild. You all know I am a sucker for a good Sculpin pattern and this Intruder inspired fly is a winner.
As soon as I saw that picture I knew I had to tie a few. I went a little smaller with mine as I am sure Mark is using this to swing for Steelhead.
It was not until after I tied several of these did I realize I forgot to put in the barred saddles on the back! Oh well, can't do anything about it now. They will still fish fine, I will get them on the next batch. Visit "This River is Wild" Facebook page here or their web site here. These guys are hard core! Check em out, you will be glad you did.
As mentioned I rigged my G Loomis Pro-4X 6 wt with a six foot Versa leader and my version of Mark's fly. After rigging up, Ed and I started the 45 minute hike up to the section we wanted to fish. The plan was to walk up, fish down and see what the day would bring.
The trees weren't in full color yet, but about another week and a half and they should really pop. On the way up we both noticed the river was a little low. I didn't think much of it until we reached the spot I wanted to fish and realized there was no way I was going to fish a Streamer with a six foot sink tip. As I stood there and contemplated my options Ed said he was going to go up above me about half of a mile and fish down. With only a integrated sink tip line Ed decided to stick with the Streamers.
After some thought I decided to take the Versa leader off and go with a dry and dropper rig. I still had my 6 wt, not the ideal dry and dropper rod, but I built a 9' leader tapered to 5X and gave it a go.
The first fish to come to hand was this thick shouldered brown. Under the dry fly (a #14 Stimulator) I had a #16 Flashback Pheasant Tail and tied to that I had a #20 Al's Rat. A former customer, Dennis Zak, fishes this type of rig all the time. His theory is the fish see the attractor type nymph and then eat the natural. Since hearing his stories of success on the White Clay I have been fishing this type of rig often and the results have always been positive. BTY, he ate the smallest fly on the rig.
After a few hours of fishing, one landed and one missed, I met up with Ed. He had some positive action on the streamer with some flashes and follows and he was gong to continue to fish down. He told me a few spots where he had moved fish and I was headed up to try to get them. By now it is going on 1:30 in the afternoon, the water temp had risen 4 degrees from the 42 that I got when I temped it in the morning and there was a little bug activity starting to happen. There it was, that little tell tail ring in the water that lets you know that things are getting ready to get real up in here! The rises were slow at first, then, in the rhythm that is the holy grail of fly fishing. I had several fish rising within casting distance. I decided to set up camp and try to pick as many as I could. I lengthened my leader to about 12' and tapered it to 6x and tried on my favorite topwater Midge pattern, the Sprout Midge. Over the next 45 minutes no less than 12 fish tried to eat my offering with me failing to connect on all 12. I don't know if it was the rust from not dry fly fishing for a while, if I was pulling it away from them, or I was just plain missing them. Ether way 0 for 12 had my frustration meter pegged in the red! I decided to take a break, eat a protein bar and collect my thoughts. I remembered something Rick Bender, my most trusted mentor, once told me. "When you see the fish take the dry don't set right away, in your mind say God Save the Queen then set." A valuable piece of advice! After my break I decided to put a little bigger fly on and have at it again. I tied on a #22 parachute Adams (because a #22 is so big). With Rick's little trick in my mind I proceeded to pick seven of the remaining 9 fish that were still rising.
It was about 4:00 by this time and the fish had shut off so I decided to start what would be the now 1 hour walk back to the truck. As I came up on my buddy Ed he was unhooking this beauty he had landed on a Elk Hair Caddis after going back to the truck and switching rods.
We both had a great day on the water. The rule of thumb is to "plan your fish and fish your plan" and usually that is a good credo to stick to. Every once in a while it pays to think outside the box, like fishing #22 and #24 dry flies on a 6 wt. As mentioned, the leaves aren't the only things in nature to color up in the Fall, Wild Browns do too.