To me, nothing says stillwater trout more than the short days and cold water of autumn. So when I arrived at one of my favorite trout lakes a few days ago, I was in fly fishing heaven. The water temperature was a nicely chilled 51 degrees and the air temperature was a very comfortable 62 degrees. The wind was minimal and the sky was perfectly blue. The trees were at the peak of their autumn display.
It could not have been more perfect. I was fishing a small Canadian Shield lake in eastern Manitoba. Although it didn’t support any native trout, it was capable of overwintering stocked brookies to respectable – but not huge – sizes.
I launched my tube and fished all afternoon and past dark. I only managed to dredge one fish out of twenty feet of water on a fast sinking line. Wait a second! Trout in the fall are supposed to be aggressive and shallow; they were not playing by the usual rules.
The next morning brought zero wind and very few clouds. Again, I launched my tube and floated around in optimistic bliss for a few hours. The optimism came in handy because my catch rate was even worse than the previous day.
Then it happened. The clouds started rolling in. Instead of climbing, the air temperature stayed on the chilly side. And the fish started to hit, never more than a short cast from shore. No need for a heavy sinker, my usual intermediate line was perfect. No need for any kind of finesse, either. A large, white Clouser did the trick.
After a half dozen brookies though, the wind started to kick up and the air temperature really started to drop. A cold front started to move in and it was time for me to go.
The moral of the story? A fall day is a nice time to fish – but not necessarily a “nice” fall day…