Now that the heat of the summer (finally) seems to be behind us, it’s time to start thinking seriously about fall trout fishing.
This is the time of year that the fish begin to feed actively in preparation for the lean winter months to come and that means you can have some outstanding action over the next several weeks.
To help you cash in on the autumn trout bonanza, here are some tips and techniques to think about. Keep in mind, however, that there are no absolutes in the world of fishing and trout operate on their own schedule with their own agenda. Think of the following more as general rules of thumb with which you can get pointed in the right direction.
When fishing hardware like spinners and spoons for trout, take note of the weather. I like to start with gold lures on cloudy or dark days and silver colored ones when the sun’s out. Fluorescent greens, blues and reds work well when you’re fishing in deep or off-colored water and white can be deadly just about anytime.
If you’re out trolling bodybaits like Rapalas and Rebels for browns early or late in the day, consider using black lures. I know, it seems strange to use black lures when fishing in dark conditions, but think about the times you’ve swam in a lake or pool at night. Look up from the bottom and the surface is lighter than the surrounding water. A fish looking up at the white surface can see a black lure very well. Conversely, white bellied lures should be avoided in such situations.
Fall’s the time to keep the power goo in the jar and go with natural baits for trout. Right after the first rain of the season, nightcrawlers can be tough to beat — especially if you fish them near the mouths of tributary or run-off streams. After sitting dry for several months, streambeds become home to all kinds of terrestrial critters and the initial storm of the season always washes a vast cornucopia of goodies into the lakes. Trout know this and will patrol the areas where these streams enter a lake and nothing gets them more excited than a big, juicy worm.??In October and November, brown trout, brookies and kokanee salmon run up tributary creeks to spawn. With fresh spawn in the water, good old fashioned Pautzke’s salmon eggs (remember them?) become one of the hottest baits around when you fish near creek mouths.
Water temperature can be a tricky deal in the fall. Early on, when the nights finally start getting cooler and the days shorten, trout begin to get active again. The water temps drop and lakes “turn over,” which means the cold water that was down near the bottom of the lake mixes with the surface water.??The cold water acts like an elixir for trout lockjaw and they go on a feeding binge on the surface (note to self: this is a good time to be on the water). Fast trolling (or casting & retrieving from shore) with just about any kind of spoon, plug or spinner will get you plenty of action during the first week of turnover. However, it can get too cold as the season progresses. When the water temps dip into the low to mid 40’s, trout get a little slug-gish and a slow, gaudy presentation is the key to success.??For example, say you were throwing gold ½-ounce Kastmasters off the bank at Lake X during turnover, and you were consistently catching some nice rainbows. The next week, a cold snap chilled the water to 45 degrees and your honey hole didn’t produce that weekend. You figure the fish moved on to another spot, but they’re probably still there — they just needed a different presentation.??I’d switch to a larger, brighter lure and one that preforms well at slower speeds (Kastmasters work best at a high retrieve rate). Something like a 3/4-ounce firetiger colored Little Cleo or a yellow/red dot No. 6 Panther Martin spinner — reeled barely fast enough to make it wobble or spin — would probably get you back into the action.
And speaking of spinners, stay away from lures like Rooster Tails when you need to fish slowly – you have to draw a lot of water across its willow leaf shaped blade to get it to spin. In laymen’s terms, you have to crank it in way too fast. Stick instead to spinners equipped with French, in-line or Colorado style blades in cold water.??Another thing to consider when fishing later in the season when water temperatures drop is the fact that the fish get more active as the water warms up in the afternoon. That means you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to tap into the best bite.
In short, avoid fishing when we have one. For some reason, trout fishing goes into the tank around here on a full moon. I’m sure you’ve heard that the fishing sucks the day after a full moon because the fish feed all night, but that has nothing to do with it, in my estimation. Trout have very sensitive lateral lines along their bodies which help them find prey even during the darkest of nights. They don’t need the light of the moon to see by.??So, I don’t have a real good answer for you, but I do know that if the moon can affect the tides, it certainly do something funky to trout and other critters. Just trust me: trout fishing and full moons don’t mix. If you absolutely have to go out, try changing things up: fish later in the day, use off-the-wall lures and work areas you normally don’t fish. And you may even want to take a lucky rabbit’s foot with you.