Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Promise of Autumn

As much as I like to fish in the spring and early summer, there's something about fishing in the fall that brings everything full circle.  The "major" hatches are well past us, and the heat of summer has finally surrendered to arctic born breezes, shorter days and the harvest of sun-drenched fields and orchards. Even the scent of the air becomes earthy and full-bodied, almost as though it too has ripened on the vines of spring rains and bright summer sun. 

And what about the fishing?  I managed to sneak away for a few hours after work the other night and the fishing was fantastic.  The air was warm and calm, and the river perfect.  I fished a long slow pool that was fed by faster riffles that bounce off the boulder strewn bottom and are home to all kinds of aquatic insects.  That evening the Slate Drakes/Isonychias and small Blue-winged Olives came off steadily and drifted down along the flat water.  It was one of those puzzling times we often witness when fishing; the trout all but ignored the larger Isonychias, while gulping down the Blue-winged Olives as they drifted over their heads.  Its amazing to see this because one Isonychia is the equivalent of a half dozen or more Blue-winged Olives.  One would think the trout would take the big bugs over the little ones because they could expend less energy - one rise to six or more - simply because it makes sense to us.  And that's the rub, what we see as a simple mathematics has nothing to do with how the trout behave.  Maybe the little buggers taste better than the big ones, or maybe the smaller flies are slower to get off the water and the trout see them as easier targets, who knows?   I'm glad I don't know, that would take the fun out of it.

Careful observation told me the trout were not only taking the Blue-winged Olives, they were mostly taking those that were on their side or otherwise injured.  The flies that had rigid upright wings looking so much like tiny sailboats with dark sails, generally took off unharmed.  So I tied one of my soft hackle pheasant tail emergers in a size #18, onto the end of my 12 foot leader tapered to 6X, and while crouching as low as could I began casting it to a working fish.  I was fishing it dry, right on the surface film as I usually do.  A few casts after tying on the emerger, I got a good drift and a solid take. After a short battle, I landed a pretty rainbow trout, my fly firmly set in its upper jaw.  I removed the fly, then held it gently in the water facing into the soft current, and soon it slid out of my hand and back into its watery world.  Here's the one and only fly I used that evening to take 9 rainbow and brown trout of varying sizes.

(Click on photo to enlarge)

It was a wonderful early Autumn afternoon on the water.  Expect the Tiny Blue-winged Olives to continue hatching almost every day when the sun begins it descent and shadows grow long, for the next month or so.  Some will be #20's, and some will be #22-26's.  They will challenge both the eyes, and our efforts to get the tiny bits of feathers and fur on even tinier hooks to drift drag-free.  Give it a shot, its a blast.

Sharpen your hooks.   


Lester Kish said...

Nice. What knot do you to attach fly to leader Matt?

Mr. Q said...

Nice writing....I feel like eating a piece of Pumpkin pie now....

Matt Grobert said...

Lester, most of the time I use an unconventional knot I call a modified turle knot. It's a turle knot where you pull the loop over the eye and around the tippet in front of the hook eye, and then tighten it by pulling the tag end and the tippet together. The knot police and knot freaks among us will likely cringe when they read that, but when tied properly it is quick and very strong. It may be time for a post on it soon....cringe away folks. :)

Matt Grobert said...

Mr. Q, thanks. If you make it I'll have a piece, too.