Interestingly enough a lot of outdoors fanatics focus on fall as being hunting season. That’s certainly true, and I’m ready to go off in search of deer and bear. A little later of course come pheasant and duck seasons. Since I’m planning to be up in the Sierra anyway, I may just give the trout a try as long as I’m there.
Fall weather brings changes in trout behavior that can result in big benefits if you pay attention. Winter is tough on trout just as it’s tough on humans, deer, bear, and other critters. Because they sense the approach of winter, trout often go on feeding binges to store up reserves to get them through the winter. One of the first adjustments you may want to make if you decide to try fall trout fishing is changing your mental clock. With the coming of cooler weather in the high country, it’s no longer necessary to rise at the crack of dawn to get out on the water, Oftentimes you can find some great fall trout fishing at midday. Give it a try, you might be surprised.
Another trick you might want to employ in fishing for fall trout is to concentrate on grassy meadow stretches and use either live grasshoppers or a hopper imitation fly. When the meadow grass begins to dry and turn color is a great time for hoppers to take trout from the meadow stretches. If you’ve ever paid close attention to grasshoppers when they fall into a stream they often make a noisy “splat” when they hit the water. Forget all that quiet stuff with a soft delicate presentation. Go ahead and whack that fly down on the surface. You may just be greeted by a voracious lunker trout trying to fatten up for fall.
Mind you, I still practice a lot of catch and release fishing, but if you’re looking for a “Wall Trout” you can still release him after you’ve taken his picture. Of course once in a great while you might want to take one to a taxidermist. Oftentimes, your best option is to keep the big old boy alive in the shallows and take a few pictures and measurements and your taxidermist can make his replica to hang on your wall. That way you can release that monster trout unharmed so that he can pass his genes on to another generation.
If you want to have fresh trout for dinner, keep some of the medium sized ones and let the big ones go. Then you can eat trout around your campfire and still get warm fuzzies about the big one you released.
Yes indeed, I’ll be up there in the Sierra looking for a blond bear that’s eluded me for years. But in between hunting times I’ll be looking for those lunker trout of fall. Who knows? Maybe I’ll see you up there.
Until next time, Tight Lines.
Don Moyer is a longtime Central Valley resident and avid outdoorsman. He contributes occasional columns.