Season Reflections

Each trout season I try to learn something new; be that a technique, location or fly. However, this season was different: I didn’t research a new technique, I lacked the time to try to discover a new stream, and I didn’t get around testing some new flies. That being said, I did learn something new this year which I think is as important as anything from prior seasons: don’t let the weather forecast dictate when you go fishing.

For years, I could cherry-pick my fishing days; waiting for the ideal forecast – which I basically decided was warm and sunny. However, in recent times, I’ve gradually moved to the traditional Monday to Friday work routine, leaving only the weekends for fishing. This has meant I can’t be so choosy when it comes to picking the weather. For example, during past trout seasons, I would avoid those cooler, drizzly days. But when that’s the forecast for the only days you have off, you make do.

What made this season special, was that my best two days were in conditions I would have thought were less than ideal. In both cases, the temperature was lucky to hit the high teens, skies were overcast with passing showers, and yet the browns were happily eating dries off the top! To prove it wasn’t a fluke, one day was in spring and the other was in autumn.

Spring Day

On this occasion, I visited a small stream I’d fished a few times over the years. It’s a lovely freestone creek that flows through dense forest, which helped provide a little shelter from the light showers overhead. Still, there was no avoiding that the day was cold and wet, with my fingers quickly losing warmth on the walk from the car to my starting spot downstream.

Looking good even with grey skies overhead.

Despite some rain throughout the preceding week, the stream was in good condition. I tied on a simple dry/ dropper rig, with an attractor up the top and a small mayfly nymph on the bottom.

After fishing a few likely pockets and small pools, I was fishless, and there was nothing to indicate the trout would become more active later. To add to my frustration, the ‘overgrowth’ was going a good job of snagging my nymph on what seemed like every second cast.

Then, around a corner, I peered into a shallow pool and noticed a trout happily moving in the current. I bow-and-arrow cast the dry dropper above it. I expected the fish to take the nymph but to my surprise, it snapped the dry off the surface.

Surprise on the dry.

That was all the encouragement I needed to remove the pesky nymph and continue with the single dry. Many more fish came to hand, eagerly taking the dry despite the cool, wet conditions. Amongst the smaller ones, some quality stream trout were missed. Next time!

Autumn Day

Being stuck inside the office while it’s warm and the sunny outside is frustrating. But it’s only made worse when the weekend forecast is cool and cloudy. However, with limited days available, I once again set off to fish a stream; this time a water where I often have great hopper fishing at this time of year. Although it wasn’t hopper weather, the stream was in great condition with a good flow. I tied on a single dry fly and set off.

Second cast, and a small brown took the dry without hesitation. This set the scene for the next hour and a half, with several fish brought to hand, including some over a pound. All these trout came from blind casts to likely lies, and most were seen inspecting the fly just before taking it.

Once again, not classic dry fly conditions, but the trout were looking up.

Then, the first fish I actually saw before I cast to it, rejected the fly twice, so I made the switch to a more subtle mayfly pattern. But that was also refused, and then given no attention at all on the second pass. I’ve been in a similar situation before and rather than going to another small dry or nymph, I’ve had success going bigger and louder than the initial pattern. So, a hopper pattern was tied on. Instant success as the fish approached and engulfed the fly.

Despite the continued cool, damp weather, I kept the hopper on for the rest of the day. It worked – bringing more browns to hand, all of which ate the hopper shortly after it landed.

And the hopper worked too!

This was easily my best day for the season. The fishing was visual and action-packed. However what made me happiest (besides unexpectedly great fishing) was the condition the trout were in: all filled out with full bellies. I’m guessing it might have been something to do with how well the stream was flowing, following above average late summer and early autumn rain. Here’s hoping the pattern continues over winter and into next season.