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Fall Fishing

By Pete Rosenau August 27, 2021

    Do you have a favorite fishing season? Autumn happens to be mine. Not only are the temps cooler and the colors of deciduous trees on full display, but most importantly the fish are more than excited to take a fly. I’d like to share some simple steps you can take to ensure some of the best fishing days you may have all year. More properly they can be thought of as courtesy reminders for things you probably know and still decide to skip. I’m guilty myself.
  
     One of the first things I like to do is replace any leaders that are in use or that sat in the fly bag or car during the summer. I’ve lived in Arizona long enough to tell you leader material does not last after it’s been baked in a car. Sun damage does the same, so remove any doubtful leaders. This extends to tippet material as well. The time to save a few cents will not be when a trophy brown takes your old 3X tippet into his labyrinth of trees and rocks. Your chances of catching a large trout are higher in the fall because of fish fattening for winter and, for some, before they spawn. Fish of all sizes are nearer the reachable water and looking for food. There is no replacement for replacement.

     Fly selection takes on more importance in the fall if you’re fishing famous tail waters or heavily fished areas. Typically the water will be lower in the streams and rivers where technical fishing is the norm already. This means tiny tippets and accurate bug representation and presentation. This all gets dumped out of the fly box as soon as we consider the brown trout claiming territory and disregarding all thoughts about pesky fly tossers. They are more in the mood to kill your streamer than they are to hide in the shadows. They are looking for trouble and I can’t think of a better time to introduce a newbie to the sport. Angry fish who only become more excited with plopped flies and erratic line strips. Win, win.

     This may register more with a certain age demographic than others, but its importance has equal value regardless of age. In the fall kids are returning to school, vacations are dwindling and snow birds are preparing to head for AZ or FL. This means less people on some of your favorite haunts. That’s great news for better fishing and the beauty only solitude can disclose. But there is a dark side as well. If you are injured or otherwise compromised there is less chance someone will notice. That’s one of a zillion reasons to fish with a buddy or at the very least let somebody know where and when you’ll be going. It’s an easy thing that gives you and those concerned some peace of mind. Peace of mind leads to better fishing which leads to peace of mind.

     In order for that mind to keep functioning whilst on the water it may be time to bust out the dome decorations. The wind, colder, drier air and sunlight are all making a claim to tour skin. Cover it and stay protected. When the sun dives down behind the mountains and you just had to fish the last pool you’ll be glad to have an extra hat and jacket for sure. Gloves can be great after your hands have been in the water all day. They’ll be warm from being in your pack and you’ll save a bunch of heat heading back to camp or your vehicle.

     An entire change of warm clothing is always a good thing to keep in a dry box for fall fishing. Toss it in the ride and if you fall in or get caught in a storm you’ll have some dry threads awaiting your return. Speaking of rides, depending on your geography and weather conditions the roads can become an issue faster than you might be able to adjust. Plan ahead. Keep your vehicle regularly maintained and stow some food and water for emergencies. A recharging device for your car battery or gadgets is an added bit of insurance that only needs to be used once to prove its worth.

     I’m so very grateful to all of you who read this and I sincerely hope that you find at least a tiny crumb of useful information. Fly fishing and fishing in general can be absolutely spectacular in the fall. But taking a deep breath before we lose focus in autumn’s beauty can make it that much more special. And remember, fish live in the water year round. Cooler air temps don’t make it any easier for them to breathe above the water, so leave them in the water as much as possible. Thanks for reading along and enjoy your fall fishing!

    

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