Decreasing water temperature, now in the low 60’s, along with scheduled increases in water flows has done its job very nicely. The East Outlet, Moose, and Roach have all seen nice runs of fall fish. Anglers are all smiles with lots of tales of big, beautiful salmon. These are 18 – 22” adult spawning age fish.
Streamers are back in fashion as are sinking lines. When salmon and brookies enter the river on their spawning run they are eager to chase streamers. You may be able to get them to chase a streamer just under the surface but more likely a sinking line will attract more fish. New fish to the river have been making a living chasing smelt in the lake so they are not likely looking to the surface for a meal. During early fall getting your streamer down 2-4 feet can make a big different. As time goes on they are more willing to chase something on top.
Start swinging falls streamer patterns on a sinking or floating line. Fresh fish are eager to chase down a grab a streamer. Cover every square foot of water. In the fall you’ll find fish holding in places you never find them any other time. It’s not just about the feeding lane. If you’re using your floating line try casting beyond a deep edge into the shallow water close to shore and let your fly swing back over the deep edge. Fall fish like to hold along an edge close to shallow water. And the shallow tail out of a pool can be very productive. As fish move upstream and enter a new pool they often hold along the seam at the tailout. They may be in less tan two feet of water.
One thing we want to drive home; Swing your fly though every square inch of water. If you do, at the end of the day you’ll find more fish than if you randomly cast here and there. And just as important, “If first you don’t succeed try another fly”.
Nymphing can also be very productive during fall conditions and produce some of the biggest fish. Remember fall fish are not hungry and actively feeding. We always look at nymping like you’re trying to deliver a Lays potato chip to a couch potato. Once fall fish have been in the river for a while they tend to settle into a comfortable spot waiting for the urge, to move to their spawning areas. We’ll call it their lazy chair and they’re not hungry so not on any real feeding schedule. When it comes to nymphing in the fall keep in mind every aquatic insect species is crawling around on the bottom and not much in the way of hatches. As a result fish may pick up one of this or one of that. And if you talk to ten different fishermen who are nymphing you’ll likely get ten different answers regarding what worked. So again we’ll suggest if it ain’t working change it or jokingly we like to say “When you do catch a fish on a nymph you might as well cut it off and tie on something different because you’re probably not going to catch another on that fly”. There is one central theme when it comes to fall nymphing; aquatic insects are just beginning their life cycle and any given species is much smaller now than they will be next summer so smaller is better with the exception of stonefly which can take over a year to mature can be big any time of season.
So Times-a-wastin’. The countdown has begun. Stars have lined up nicely and the time has come to fool some of the biggest fish of the season. In mother natures grand plan there is this wonderful consolation prize that comes with fall fishing. As you roam from place to place you get to watch nature wonder. You get to witness the canvas of foliage change to fall colors, already in progress. Everyday vistas change and become more spectacular. What a wonderful time of year, by far our favorite. See you out there.
The photo above is of a major male salmon caught and released this morning at the Roach River by Alan Jansujwicz of Bangor. And it was the only one.
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