Fishing in the fall or Autumn on Fall River can be a real treat. Its at that time of year that the colors change, temperature drops and we start to get Indian summer days. The waters start to go into a metamorphosis, it’s the final change of weather before winter. If the cycle makes the full change (if we don’t go into a drought) Then everything changes with it. The bugs change, water temperature changes, and the time of day when the window of opportunity is best changes also. It’s a good time of year to be on the water. I have to say that last year from the third week of October to the end of the season fishing was amazing.
The late season hatches can be different. Here on Fall River we start to see some Mahogany’s throughout the river, and a few Green drakes show up in the upper river. The McCloud has the October Caddis along with the Upper Sac and the Pit River. There can be a whole new variety of bugs coming off that you won’t see in the early part of the season through summer. This means different flies.
With that let me just say something about fly selection. It can be extremely confusing. Shops will have bins literally with thousands of flies. I have read stream reports where they name fifty different flies for one water. Every one of them will catch fish if presented right. But do you really want to buy 50 different flies for a day or two of fishing? When what you already have may be just what the fish are looking for? I’m not saying you should buy more flies. After all a well rounded selection does increase your adaptability. That said, the fish key on one fly at a time, not 50. In the course of one day of fishing I may only use 6 to 8 different patterns and just rotate them through. If I am wading and the fish go stale on what I am using I will change bugs before I leave the run. I will fish the new fly in the original spot for a couple of casts, just to make sure I did not miss something then move on. In the boat when fishing two anglers. I have literally removed a fly from one guy because he is complaining its not working. And put it on the other angler’s rod and he catches fish right away with it. I think all season on Fall River I have only used 8 to 10 different nymph patterns, that’s including leaches. And 6 different dry patterns. The trick is communicating with other anglers who are current on the water you are heading to. If you are calling a shop to ask about a water find out how they gather their info for their stream report.
In the fall months you may have some partly cloudy days. On days when the clouds are present seeing your dry fly can be hard. It is best to have your dry’s tied with a dark colored wing either dark purple or black. CDC makes a nice wing and easy to see, however its just not the most durable material. They do make a chemical that you put on it after you catch a fish. It helps restore the wing to original shape. But I don’t think it works all that well.
This time of year the bug activity can start later in the day and stop earlier. So, it is critical that these windows are recognized. Conditions may change throughout the day so the magic time may come when the conditions are not at there best. Let’s say all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of a incredible caddies hatch. Fish rising everywhere, and then the wind comes up and the fish stop rising. Now you are faced with wind in your face. Casting into the wind may not be one of your forte. So, what are your options? Well you can struggle with the wind making countless meaningless drifts. That may never reach the target, let alone catch a fish. You can look for a cove or spot that is sheltered from the wind. Or maybe it would be best to switch to a technique that you are more comfortable with. A technique that will work for you in the wind. It is far better to make a dozen good drifts with a system that may not be your favorite to fish then to make 5 dozen bad drifts that don’t stand a chance of doing anything other then spooking fish. Have fun and enjoy the fall weather.