Nope, we are not going to discuss fishing from or in trees; although I have seen a few people spend a good portion of their time casting into said trees. I do believe that the majority of fish will be caught in some type of water. Terrestrials to the fishing world are land based insects that sometimes end up falling in the water and therefore become fish food. The cooler nights of September change fish back into a daytime feeding pattern. The combined effects of heat and less available oxygen during the peak of summer make most of our fish species predominately nocturnal predators.
Low water levels make river and stream fishing difficult at this time of the year, The fish are there and are feeling the lean times of winter approaching. They want to eat and will feed on whatever is most abundant. The mayfly and caddis fly hatches are over; with a few exceptions. Minnow and crayfish populations have thinned out over the summer. What does that leave out there for forage? Things that haplessly fall in or are blown into the water become the most reliable food source.
Waters that are bordered by grassy areas tend to have an abundant population of grasshoppers. Where do some of the grasshoppers end up anytime something walks by? Fish know that, too. I love fishing high mountain streams when the leaves are beginning to show some color. Careful wading is a must to prevent spooking the fish. Fine tippets are not needed and often a less than perfect cast which makes your grasshopper pattern land with a plop; often works best. You probably will not notice any rising fish. Casts should be made to ambush spots such as points sticking out into the water or overhanging vegetation. You never know what may be laying there and waiting for a meal. Rises are not dainty little sips, either. You should use a much heavier tippet than you would when normally dry fly fishing. This one tip will save some heartache when you see red spots the size of your thumbnail.
Now I know some of you are thinking: I don’t have any grassy meadows or sods nearby. Don’t worry. There is another option. Actually there are two other options. Overhanging trees and rock ledges tend to be hotspots. Just think of the menu underneath a tree: Ants, Beetles, Caterpillars, Leaf-hoppers and Spiders; just to mention a few. Sounds like a good place for fish dinner and the food supply is replenished with every breeze. Try sitting and staring alongside a rock ledge that meets the water sometime. Spend fifteen minutes and you will be enlightened. It is unbelievable how many creatures fall into the water. There is always something rolling in. Fish know that; you should too.
Those of you that are looking for something peaceful to do between now and when the snow starts flying should get an empty fly box and prepare it for your autumn trips. Yes, trips. I know that after you go once during this un-traditional time you will keep going back. Fill up your box with grasshopper, beetle and ant patterns. Throw in a few small Slate Drakes and Blue-winged Olives and you will be set for anything that happens. Enjoy.
This is my article in the September 2014 print issue of Two-Lane Livin
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