Late fall days are always a gamble when it comes to fishing. It’s already cool, boarding on cold, or just plain cold. And with the chance of temperature drops any given day it can go from hard to harder. But I treat late fall days the same as any other day through the year, the idea being that I might not catch anything even on the really nice days. Those days happen. I still go, because I know what could happen.
We left my car at one end and took Jeff’s car down stream maybe a mile. We parked in a muddy corn field with corn stalk nubs poking up through the dirt. I was happy to not find another vehicle parked out there with it being the opening of gun during the deer season. I figured going out at noon was our best bet, as we’d be hitting the high point of the day as far as temperature went and that by noon the hunters would’ve most likely gone home for a couple hours before returning before dusk. No truck in the corn field and an empty tree stand in the tree line next to the creek backed up the theory. I breathed a sigh of relief but you couldn’t see my breath because it was a balmy forty-seven degrees. There was nothing to complain about there.
The trees were bare, the tall grass stood brown and dormant, not knocked down by a snow fall yet, and the sky was a bland shade of gray like a lot of fall days. Gray fall skies can have me wishing for warmer, brighter days, just like hot summer days can actually have me welcoming the first cool days of the transition to fall. I don’t like change as I get older, I wish everything could just be the way it used to be. But the change of the seasons, at least spring through fall is something I still welcome. The change to winter doesn’t do much for me anymore. I like fishing in a quiet snowfall, but other than that I’m happy without it.
I tied on my classic red Wooley Bugger pattern, just some red marabou on a size twelve hook with a tungsten bead head, and after only a handful of drifts through the first run I had a nice brown on the line. Jeff netted it, we grabbed a couple photos, watched it swim off, then with a fist bump we moved up stream. The afternoon was spent under that gray sky with the sun trying to penetrate it looking like nothing more than a distant low wattage lightbulb. For this time of year the conditions were really about as perfect as you could expect.
Jeff landed three more trout through the next couple hours and I snagged that red bugger at least five times. Each time I tried all kinds of tricks to get it to come loose but always failed, only to begin wading to it to have it just come loose on it’s own, or the couple times it was too deep I just pointed the rod tip at it and pulled the line figuring on breaking it off, only to feel that sudden release of all the tension and to find the fly still there. I’d forgotten all my tippet in the car and so I fished with that same fly and that same length of leader and tippet all afternoon, which I couldn’t believe. If I’d brought a couple spools of tippet, I’m sure I’d have used several feet of it while I was out there. Some days it’s just better to be lucky than good. Which is nothing to complain about.
At the bridge where we walked out Jeff caught one last brown and I had one on just long enough to see it and say it was there, but not long enough to say I’d caught it. You’ll have that. The temperature was beginning to drop with the sun that we couldn’t see behind the gray overcast sky, so it was a good time to finish anyway. I’m sure as we were walking the black top to the car, there were hunters walking back into their tree stands. A changing of the guard so to speak. Like the changing of the seasons.
Mark Usyk is the author of Reflections of a Fly Rod, Carp Are Jerks, and soon to be released in the next couple weeks his third book…Not All trout Are Geniuses. You can find them here, signed and ready for purchase on jprossflyrods.com, or in e-book format on Amazon. While you’re here take a look at the special items that will make great gifts this season like the special soaps and balms, jerky’s, flies and fly boxes, nets and staffs, reels, lines, and of course fly rods.