By Jason Tucker
If you’ve been wanting to catch that trophy brown trout, now is the time.
It was a cold overcast November morning when we launched Phil’s custom cedar drift boat that he had built lovingly with his own hands. We put in on the Jordan River in Northern Michigan, a stream this little boat was built for, wearing blaze orange hats to hopefully avoid being shot by any deer hunters still in the woods. Phil rowed while I cast streamers, ducking and dodging the canopy of cedar limbs and the occasional tree downed by recent wind storms.
We arrived at a large pool where the river exited to the right. Phil dropped anchor, got up and traded me places at the front of the boat. He tied on a 7-inch smelt pattern that we had nicknamed the Private Dancer and stripped out some line. He cast to the heavily cut bank and began stripping back. A large dark shadow followed, and just after we saw it, a white mouth opened and inhaled his fly. After a tough battle in the tight, wood-choked stream he brought in a two-foot long solid brown. It was a great start to a great float.
Fall is well underway, and it is perhaps the best time of the year to target BIG brown trout. There are a lot of reasons to love fall fishing, but you definitely must change up your game to be successful.
Here are some reasons you should get out this fall yet and pursue big browns.
-The dry fly season is over, and a lot of anglers hang up their gear.
-The summer tourist season is over and the kids are back in school. This removes even more people from the river, leaving you more elbow room.
-Hunting seasons and other fall activities (football) take that many more people off the water.
-Because of cooling temperatures, less daytime human disturbance, the need to feed because of the upcoming spawn, or a combination of all three, big brown trout become more active during the day and are willing to feed.
-Throughout their range, big browns in lakes and reservoirs move out and run up tributary streams to spawn, putting them within reach of fly anglers.
Those are just some of the reasons, but let’s move on to tactics.
As mentioned above, fall brown trout are triggered to feed, often all day long. For all practical purposes the dry fly bite is over. This leaves throwing streamers and nymphing/egging.
Nymphing pretty much doesn’t change. I tend to start with naturals like hare’s ears and pheasant tails. Large stonefly nymphs can be very effective on big fish. Don’t ever forget to try scuds. Fish deep runs and the tailouts of pools, being careful not to line the fish or let them see you. Take advantage of higher stained water. Egging can be particularly effective this time of year, especially in the Great Lakes tributaries behind spawning salmon. Be careful not to snag or otherwise disturb the salmon and tip off the brown trout to your presence. Use natural colored veiled eggs in orange/peach, orange/chartreuse or pink/orange. Even outside the Great Lakes region egging can be very effective but DO NOT fish to large brown trout on redds. You want those fish to effectively spawn and propagate. Fishing the next dark water below a big redd provided you don’t cast or drift through it, can be very effective. Brown trout eggs tends to be paler than salmon or steelhead, so try eggs in Oregon Cheese color in a size 12 or 14.
The real action for big browns in fall is streamers. Big streamers. All those Kelly Galloup, Mike Schmidt, Russ Maddin, and Tommy Lynch streamers you’ve had stashed in your streamer box, this is the time to use them. Streamers six inches and longer work. The fall is by far the best time of the year to fish them. Big browns are ornery, aggressive and hungry, and a partly cloudy, cool day after a big rain, with high, stained water is a perfect scenario to have all day action, the most exciting bite that fly fishing has to offer. Circus Peanuts, Zoo Cougars, the Great Lakes Deceiver, Tommy’s Triple D, Red Rockets and the Viking Midge all produce in the fall. Olive, brown, black and yellow are all good colors. The Great Lakes Deceiver in cotton candy is a big producer.
If you find that you are getting a lot of follows and swipes but no takers, go smaller, natural, and sculpin. Smaller Zoo Cougars in white, yellow or tan cone-head Madonnas, Matukas and muddler minnows work great in the fall. If you are fishing a system that gets a local run of baitfish in fall then match the hatch. Whatever you do, get out there, pound the banks and the wood, strip hard, strip set, and you very well may find yourself tight to your biggest brown trout of the year.
Jason writes the fine blog Fontinalis Rising
Jason TuckerGink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com email@example.com Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!