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We’ve been losing daylight since the Summer Solstice occurred way back in June. As we move towards the Fall Equinox on September 21 we’ll find that air temperatures begin to drop. As old Mercury drops in our thermometers the colors of the leaves will change, and humidity will decrease. Fall is a celebration for all of us who weathered the summer heat. But for us anglers, it’s also a time to get our fish on! Here’s what you can find:
Trout: Look for Western trout in pools and river runs adjacent to hay fields. When the wind blows the grasshoppers will drop into the water creating some fast and furious action. In other parts of the country the fall insects like the Isonychias (mahogany colored mayflies) and Blue-winged Olives (mayflies with blue wings and olive bodies) get the nod. Both hatch in fast moving water, so riffles and runs are good places to use them. The Olives like look for rising trout. Golden and Black stoneflies hatch in areas that feature lots of rocks, so if there is some pocket water in your favorite river or stream be sure to dead drift a nymph.
Steelhead: those sea-running rainbows return to the rivers to spawn. The most important part to targeting these fish is two-fold. The first is to develop a good network of friends who are regularly fishing and compare locations of freshly-arriving fish. The second is to look for fluctuations in the water levels. Fish will hold in a river until the water comes up and enables them to move on their way. They’ll continue moving until the water comes down and keeps them in holding areas like pools. If you scout out low-water pools you’ll be able to hone-in on when the water is normal and then look for pass-through areas for when the water is up.
Striped bass: The Fall Run has begun, so striped bass will be on the move from New England on down to Virginia. They’re keying in on baitfish like peanut bunker, bay anchovies, juvenile herring, tinker mackerel, and small butterfish, and the bait concentrates in the calmer waters of a bay on the quarter moons. Anglers should frequent points like bars, beaches, the ends of islands, or jetties on the full moon and quieter water like coves and saltponds on the new moons.
Ponds, lakes and reservoirs turn over in the fall, too, and that means that a lot of fish will move out of the shallows and head to the depths. Some will still be in the shallows, but look for others on the edges of drop offs during that transition.
Fall is a tremendous time to be on the water. Everything is in full color, from the leaves to the sky and the fish. Combined with feeding fish there is no surprise that it’s one of our favorite times of the year.