Phenomenal fall fishing

Fall fishing on the Fryingpan River can be superb. Most anglers, summer or winter, head for the upper section near the dam. But outstanding fall fishing for brown trout on the lower reaches closer to Basalt makes a great choice. This brown was fooled with a Joker.

With a bead head and a black and white double-wire body, the Joker makes a highly visible and quick sinking dropper below a dry. When the ribbon floss wing catches the sunlight, trout move to the sparkle.

Checking the calendar I see that fall is here. Checking the weather is less conclusive.

Some days are hot like summer. Some days it rains. Some days the wind blows like spring. But the evenings are definitely cooler, and the daylight is shorter.

“Seasons change, and so do I. You need not wonder why. You need not wonder why.” These lyrics from the rock song “No Time” by The Guess Who speak to both this season of the year and our own lives. The outdoors change, and we change with it. Why? Because.

October is ushered in by the changing colors of fall leaves. Weather again becomes a surprise. Sometimes all types of weather all in the same day.

Despite not being able to make up her mind in the fall, Mother Nature provides some of the best days of the year in October, to my way of thinking. As far as western Colorado goes, the seasonal changes bring some of the best times to enjoy certain outdoor activities, particularly, of course, fishing.

So, what are your fall fishing plans?

Some anglers are content to hang up the rod for the year. If you are thinking the fishing season is over, and you are ready to put away the rod, then you are ending your season too soon. Fall can be a premier time of year to chase a trout. Consider the weather, the lack of crowds, and best of all, the water conditions.

Pick the right day, and the weather can be just as good as summer, maybe better. Days can be warm, but not as hot as the searing heat of summer. Come fall, you may need a light jacket in the morning and evening, but all day can be very comfortable. Besides, everyone likes to get out and enjoy the changing colors.

Then consider the crowds, as in: What crowds? Look around you and notice all of the people that are not there.

The summer rush is over. School has started. Many outdoorsmen switch into a hunting mode. The fisherman can find himself alone, even on lakes and streams that are easily accessible and popular, and probably crowded in summer.

A stream with a reputation for good fishing and with a road right next to it can be impossible to even find a place to park in summer. Yet, come fall, you could be alone.

A lake that in summer has competitors lining the shore and boats cruising the flat water may seem like a remote Canadian lake in the fall.

Maybe best of all is the water itself. Lakes are clear, and fish have a better chance to see your lure flashing from afar.  Sunlight penetrates farther, exposing the silhouette of your deep-fished offering.

When it comes to rivers, water levels are at their lowest fishable levels of the year. This concentrates the trout into the deeper runs and pools, making them easier to locate. They’re also easier to catch because you have a better chance of putting your offering in front of them, maybe even knocking their nose.

Trout are hungry. They sense the changing season by the shorter days and decreasing water temperatures. They continue to feed, yet the heavy food supply of summer has dwindled, increasing the odds your fake food will be the choice of the day.

Brook and brown trout are in a spawning mood, increasing their aggressiveness. Maybe they will hit a fly or a lure, particularly a larger than normal one, just to show it who is boss.

Fall in western Colorado brings a season of hunting. Resident and nonresident alike direct significant time and energy toward stalking game. Should fisherman do less? I think not.

After all, fishing is hunting of a sort. One must first locate a likely spot where a fish might be, and second, cast to it. Not unlike sneaking up on any other animal.

But we fishermen sometimes forget an important rule of fishing: the principal or art of stealth. Subconsciously, we think the water somehow hides us. Because we can’t see the fish, we think the fish must not be able to see us. Such a mistake in thinking sends fish scurrying for cover. Fish we may not see until they bolt.

If careless in your approach to a likely fishing spot, then you might conclude there are no fish nearby, when in fact, fish were there but a moment ago. It’s just that now, your careless approach has caused them to leave the country.

The answer is to stalk a fish no different than any other form of hunting. Sneak up on places where fish are likely to be as well as places where you have already sighted a fish. Pleasant surprises will result.

So, don’t quit now. You are still on the fishing clock. As the song says, the season is changing, and so should you.


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