For many anglers, Labor Day marks the end of the fishing season. Rods are hung, reels stripped, and waders stored, not to be dusted off again until the spring melt. This is a mistake, because while trout are often harder to come by during the fall season, the cooling temperatures and shorter days can often present some of the best opportunities of the year to catch big trout on the fly. In this Pro Tips segment, we break down a few key tactics that will keep you fishing through the fall.
1. Throw the meat
Trout are famous for being fickle eaters. The slightest of color, size, or shape variations can be the difference between a skunk and a "you should've been here yesterday" type of day. However, one of the advantages of fall fishing is that trout - most noticeably big browns - become less picky. Trout's diets change depending on the season, and in the fall, they like to bulk in preparation for winter. While you should always bring your normal trout kit, in the fall, start your day off by throwing the meat. Big, bulky streamers and large terrestrials will be your best bet to entice a hungry trout for a nutrient-rich snack.
2. Hit the snooze
Another perk to fishing in the fall - don't be afraid to sleep in. As the air and water temperatures cool, hitting the river at dawn becomes less important, and can actually be counterproductive. When the water temperatures dips into the 40s, as can often happen during fall nights, trout become more sluggish. As the mid day sun warms the water during the day, it can help kickstart trout into feeding more. Check the water temperatures and don't be afraid to fish with an overhead sun.
3. Use longer and smaller tippet
Trout are always spooky fish, but when the water levels drop and flows slow down like they often do during the fall, it makes stealth even more important. A good rule of thumb is to generally drop down one size in tippet strength for the fall season: if you fish a 4X in the summer, try a 5X in the fall. Also, make sure your leader and tippet combo are at least 10ft to keep your line at a safe distance.
4. Use motion to your advantage
During other parts of the year, motionless or "dead" drifts are a must for trout fishing, but not-so in the fall. As leaves begin to drop from the trees, the surface of the water can often become cluttered, making it harder for fish to spot a motionless fly drifting downstream. Don't be afraid to work your fly across the surface with a little more vigor than normal. A little movement will often be enough to trigger a strike.
5. Dress in layers and bring the right gear for the job
Fall is one of those maddening times of the year when early mornings will send a chill through your bones, yet by midday you're covered in sweat. When fishing in the fall, always dress in layers so you can always adjust according to the temps.
Looking for the perfect fall trout reel? The Cheeky Boost 350 is just that. Named Outside Magazine's 2015 Reel of the Year, the Boost 350 combines the award-winning Rev Carbon Drag System with a fully machined and lightweight frame. It's the perfect reel to unlock that big buck this fall.