It’s usually not sudden. Evening fishing sessions end slightly sooner, day by day. Cooler temperatures bring new hatches—or bring back some that haven’t been seen since spring. The alders and cottonwoods that line the riverbanks slide from green to gold. Though the calendar marks the first day of fall with conviction, trout season’s rhythms aren’t so cut and dry. Fall’s approach does not come suddenly, but by degrees.
Along with the cooler temps and the changing trees come changes in tactics and approaches, changes in expectations, the realization that the fish will be hunkering down soon coupled with a calm acceptance of the fact that that’s okay, that things are as they should be. Autumn’s hatches still need deciphering, but fall has other gifts to give in parting—Streamer-crazed browns hunkered under cutbanks; rainbows in riffles that beg for a trout spey and soft hackles; brookies that don’t jump so much as cartwheel in an effort to grab a few last meals before the mercury drops.
The trout, of course, can be caught all winter, depending on where you find them. But winter isn’t trout season, because winter isn’t the season of caddis blizzards, midnight hex runs and the clumsy flailing of grasshoppers and stoneflies the size of your pinky. Fall is where it all comes together, where the trout roll out those few final surprises. It’s never sudden, but you don’t want to blink—you just might miss it.
GEAR UP FOR TROUT SEASON
GEARING UP FOR BASS
Every day on the water should start with a healthy dose of optimism, and there’s nothing more optimistic than starting the day off with popper-rigged rods for big bass and good times. The fish are as fun as they come, and a perfect reminder of why surface eats just can’t be matched.