October Fly Fishing Tips
Where has time gone? I can't believe I'm writing about October fly fishing…. and we all know what is coming next in the weather forecast.
October can be the last chance to fish for active trout before winter sets in. And as everyone on the east coast is aware, the heavy rains and flooding has not given us much chance to be on the water. Here we missed some of the best hatches of the year because of the high and fast water.
One thing to keep in mind with fall fishing is that you can sleep in a little longer. You don't need be on the water at day break like you do in the heat of the summer. In summertime most of us fish in the early morning and late evening to avoid the heat of the day and it's the best time to find active feeding fish. If you are an archery hunter you can be in your tree stand until mid-morning and then head to the trout stream for mid-afternoon fly fishing. And then head back to the tree stand for the evening hunt.
The cooler evening air temperatures result in colder water temperatures and the trout can be lethargic in early mornings and in the late evenings once the sun leaves the water. Trout will be the most active in the sun-warmed water of mid-day.
With the colder air and water temperatures, be sure that you dress for the changing conditions. My gear bag has gloves, hand warmers, heavier socks and shirts or jackets so I'm ready for changes in weather.
Low water conditions, bright sunlight and bright fall foliage make it very important to wear more natural earth color clothing than any other time of the year. Move slowly and as stealthily as possible.
Fly selection changes too with October fishing. The rule of thumb I use is to either go big or go small. I like small dry flies and nymphs for fall fly fishing and early October can produce great dry fly fishing with ants, beetles and hoppers. I like to fish a beetle with a size 18 or 20 BH (bead head) pheasant tail or caddis pupa as a drop fly. Flying ants are still around for a while and can be a lot fun to fish if you are lucky enough to see them on the water. As for mayflies, the most common fall mayfly in our area would be the Blue-winged Olives in sizes 18 and 20's. We do have some October Caddis along with size 16 and 18 tan caddis that can give you dry fly action especially in the warmest part of the day.
Trout feeding habits also change in October. Brook and brown trout are getting ready for the spawn and the big browns can put on the feed bag. I catch some of the biggest brown trout of the season at this time of year. On occasions I will just hunt big fish. And then I usually use a large streamer such as a Cathy's Super Bugger. If the water conditions calls for it, I will use a sinking tip line. Another effective technique is to dead drift a large bugger or sculpin pattern with a nymph as your trailing fly. Be sure to let the nymph swing off the bottom at the end of the drift and be ready for a big brown to take it. Hunting for big browns usually doesn't mean a lot of trout in the net but just possibly the biggest trout of the season.
Add a little color to your nymphs. I'm not sure why but nymphs and streamers with orange beads or orange hot spots behind a black bead head work very well in the fall. Red and chartreuse hot spots can also get a trout’s attention this time of year.
As I mentioned before the brown and brook trout are spawning which means there are eggs in the water and egg patterns can also be very effective in October.
Be sure to be aware of spawning fish. Watch out for redds (spawning beds) when wading in the water and be careful not to fish to spawning resident fish. But you can fish to the other fish that are downstream of the redd who will be eating the eggs and nymphs that are floating by. On many occasions I have seen fishermen walk through fish redds completely unaware. You will find spawning fish in riffles at the tail of large pools which are where fishermen are wading to cross the stream. Redds without mature fish on them still hold life and should be avoided when wading. If I spot a redd I let other fishermen know where they are and ask them to be careful when wading. If you not sure what a redd looks like Google “Fish Redds” and you will see many examples.
Here on Fishing Creek and other local trout streams we have spawning trout and we are always careful to protect them as much as possible. On many occasions I have caught small stream born browns and rainbows on Fishing Creek and it's really cool to briefly hold one of these beautiful trout before releasing it.
I'm surprised at how many fly fishermen have told me they never fish in October. October offers great fishing, great photo opportunities and it’s a wonderful time to be outdoors.
Fall in PA
October is a beautiful month here in the northeast. Soon all of our trees will be dressed in their most vibrant colors and warm fall days will be calling out fishermen, hunters, and hikers to the streams, fields, and trails for a final bittersweet good-bye until next year. Trout will be showing off spectacular spawning colors and will be busy building redds and producing another generation of wild trout for us to admire later on.
If you’re thinking about coming to our valley to enjoy the fishing or perhaps the water fall trails at Rickett’s Glen State Park or to take advantage of the State Game Lands, now is the time to make plans and to firm up reservations.
Here are a few of our favorite fall images, we hope you enjoy them and we hope to see you in the next month.
How to Fish the Upstream Dry Fly
The seventh episode of season Two of RIO's “How To” series. RIO ambassador Rob Parkins explains the advantages of fishing a dry fly upstream.
This is an excellent example of many techniques we use while fly fishing. If you are a relatively new fly angler, pay special attention to Rob's hands as he controls the line, notice how the fish are not out in the middle of the riffle but are hugging the seam between the fast and the slow water along the edge. Learn how to spot rises and then while staying well back from the fish cast a couple feet above him allowing the fly and tippet to drift down to him while keeping the heavy part of the leader and the fly line well away from the fish.
Thank you Rob and RIO.