This time of year, it seems that nothing is constant except change. Air temps in the high 60’s give way to sleet, rain, or snow the following day. Still, the trout are there and willing to take the right well presented fly. I continue to focus almost exclusively on nymphs (see my post from last week), and continue to have success.
Pre-spawn colors make for beautiful fish
Fish are very active and generally are fighting aggressively. Water temperatures are still warm enough that exploring the lower sections of the river (down to Glencoe, for example) can still be fun and productive. Minimal didymo means nymphing is still fun. Generally, this is one of my favorite times of year on the river.
The only caveat at this point is that you need to be careful not to disturb spawning trout…
We have come to the part of the year where my dry flies give over to nymphs. Small midge nymphs will be my go-to fly until about March.
Both of these are very effective. The larger one is a size 18.
That’s not to say fishing hasn’t been good… I’ve had some of the best days I’ve had on the river this year within the last couple weeks. I haven’t seen much in the way of signs of spawning, except for this:
I have the smaller fish on the line. The larger trout just follows it over. I originally thought it was trying to eat the smaller fish–it’s pretty common to see a larger fish take a territorial or predatory swipe at a smaller fish as you bring it to hand. This I have never seen before. The more I watched the video, I realized that there does not appear to be any aggression in the larger fish’s behavior. Almost the opposite. I wonder if this is a mating pair? Thoughts?
One thing I often say to myself on the Gunpowder or elsewhere is ‘take what the river gives you’. By this I mean I believe you will have the most success in flyfishing if you adapt your approach to weather, flow, hatches, etc. rather than trying to make one technique work all the time*. That has been especially important on the Gunpowder recently, as there is great fishing to be had, but a technique that is lights out one day will leave you skunked the next…
This caddis posed most cooperatively.
One day you can have great success on dries (caddis, olives and/or tricos depending on when and where), only to have your offerings routinely snubbed the next. Standard nymphs–my go-to is a black zebra midge–have been more consistent. If you see these guys, though, you will still see fish coming to the surface in pretty good numbers:
Tricos are still around
Fish are still rising, the leaves have mostly cleared out, and the weather is about as good as it gets for fishing.
*I still always want to fish dries, regardless of my own advice…
The subtitle for this report is ‘Bring Your Trico to Work Day’.
Can you spot the real one?
This trico landed on my glasses while I was out on the Gunpowder before work, then tagged along with me back to the shop.
Despite various changes in flows–from 37cfs to 106cfs to 67cfs to 90something this morning (it’s back to 67 now), fishing has been fantastic. There are still remnant tricos around, with olives prominent on cloudy days. If nothing is rising, nymphing zebra midges has been very productive.
It’s definitely fall out there, but don’t give up on the terrestrials just yet. They are less consistent, but you will still get the occasional aggressive rise.
Fall fishing: leaves and spawning colors
Wow. One of the thousand things I love about flyfishing for trout is that even when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the river can give you something you never expected. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes its a skunking, but always it reminds you that when you are fishing you are part of a natural system that there is no way to fully predict.
Nice Gunpowder brown trout
In the last several days, flows have gone from a steady 37cfs to over 100cfs this morning when I arrived at the river. Driving through Masemore on my way elsewhere, I was stopped in my tracks by the number of fish rising in the flats. With a little more water and a nice hatch, the trout felt like it was time to come out and play.
The olive hatch this morning was amazing. I saw good numbers of both olives and tricos. Fish were rising everywhere, and it was tough to get the trout to notice my fly with all the naturals on the water. And takes were subtle. Very subtle. I missed four before I caught my first.
I had success with a variety of flies. Olive emerger patterns were effective, as were tiny parachute adamses and tiny unusuals. Honestly, I think today was the best fishing I’ve seen since the sulphurs.
So…. the semester started and with it my other job, limiting my fishing for a few weeks. The days I have been out, though, it’s been pretty stellar.
Standard Gunpowder Brown
Three things to note if you are going out. The first is a fact, the second two are my observations. First, the water is LOW. Second, tricos are abundant. Find a hatch and you will find good fishing. Usually mornings and slow pools are your best bets. Third, try a beetle. I had a ridiculous half hour of fishing right before I had to leave this afternoon with a beetle pattern. Caught a bunch of browns and this (apparently stocked) rainbow.
Rainbow swimming away
I don’t get too excited about the size of stocked fish, but with the sparsity of large fish on the Gunpowder, it’s nice to hook into a fish that pushes 14 inches. You’ll have to take my word for it though, since this is the only shot I got.
Every time I write a Gunpowder Fishing Report, fishing conditions seem to immediately change. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen this time.
Fishing has improved. We had a very cold and wet spring, which seems to have thrown off the river all summer. Where I would normally have been fishing caddis and terrestrial dries all summer, I was reduced to nymphing just to make myself feel better. This last week things seem to have changed.
Gunpowder rainbow trout
In addition to some very good success prospecting with beetles, I have seen several hatches in the last week. They looked like trico hatches, although fish have responded better to tiny olive imitations. I have also seen and had more success with caddis this week than any other time this year.
Another thing to note: that rainbow in the picture above was caught well above the stocked section. We’ve been seeing much more of that than usual this year. Hopefully this just means that fish have been moving around more than normal.
Have fun out there!