Fly fishing for trout through fall
By Nick DelVecchio
When the leaves start to turn and the temperatures call for a fleece jacket, many anglers in Pennsylvania head back to the trout streams. While it is possible to fish through the summer months, trout are easily stressed by warm water and many opt to turn their attention elsewhere until the dog days cease. Once they do, trout feed vigorously, prompting sporting folks to adorn boots and waders in pursuit of the browns, brooks, and rainbows of the Pennsylvania Wilds.
There’s something relaxing about fall fishing: oftentimes breaks in the day are spent sitting on a log admiring the beauty that is so eloquently present on the shorelines and hills. Splashes of orange, red, and yellow as a backdrop to a flowing stream are nothing short of a Kinkade masterpiece. Catching fish would probably be secondary if the trout weren’t so eager to eat our flies!
Trout, more so than almost any other fish species, require very oxygenated water that flows clear and cool. The hot summer months make trout lethargic as they struggle to conserve as much energy as possible and persist through the heat and lack of rain. Once the weather breaks in late September, the fish will instinctively go into feeding mode for the impending freeze of winter. To the willing and dedicated angler, this can reap some extraordinary rewards.
It’s commonly suggested that fish activity will mirror the current season. During the newfound warmth of early summer trout are active and happily feeding as they bask in the heat. Winter provides a stark contrast as our finned quarry sits almost idle on the stream bottom, trying not to move in the fierce cold that grips Pennsylvania. In fall, fish are still active from summer, but winter is in the air even if it is several months away. Each cool breeze and chilly morning is a reminder of what’s to come.
In terms of beauty, autumn on a trout stream in the Keystone State is an experience not had by many anglers around the country. It’s not just the sprawling wooded mountains adorned with vibrant colors, but the colors worn by the fish themselves. Brook and brown trout spawn each fall, and in the weeks leading up to this their spots and coloration become just as striking as the tree foliage.
The blue halo surrounding a red dot on the flank of a brook trout or the deep butter color on the underside of a brown trout is the stuff of daydreams, and to have those brilliant patterns come to life each fall is remarkable. While targeting spawning fish is something that all anglers should avoid, pursuing them in the weeks and months surrounding their specific spawning time provides both immense fun and a content peacefulness that can only be found in these months.
For those heading out with a fly rod to enjoy this time of year, the flies used to catch fish add an extra layer of excitement. September through November, perhaps more than in any other months, provide excellent opportunities to fish with streamers. These forage fish patterns can imitate everything from creek chubs to sculpins and they bring the biggest fish from the depths in pursuit of these giant flies. These big, often flashy, imitations are typically used with weight and fished with a stripping retrieve to mimic a swimming motion. Once anglers experience the incredible thrill of a big brown trout inhaling a streamer there is no going back. It’s the final piece of the puzzle that makes fall fishing unforgettable.
Striking vistas with world renowned fall foliage, sharp coloration changes on the trout, and exciting fishing methods come together to create a fishing experience not found many other places. The whoosh of a fly line zipping through the air, interjected by the bugle of a bull elk and the rushing water is what anglers wait for all year long. Now that it’s finally here, get out there and enjoy it!
EXPERIENCE YOUR OWN GUIDED TOUR!
Those interested in going on a guided adventure in the Pennsylvania Wilds with Wildwood Outfitters have a chance to do so at a reduced rate!
Use the coupon code PAWilds for 10% off of any of guided trips at www.wildwoodoutfitterspa.com. The code is valid for both the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
About the Author: Nick DelVecchio is a freelance outdoor writer and the owner/head fishing guide at Wildwood Outfitters. He guides anglers of all skill levels on the many trout waters in the PA Wilds, providing all of the necessary gear on trips customized for each guest. For more information on guided fly fishing trips with Nick, please visit wildwoodoutfitterspa.com!
**All photos for this article provided by Nick DelVecchio.
More From Our Blog