Fall Rainbows

I’ve been enjoying some post-trout season pond fishing for rainbows the past few weekends. The weather has been cooperative, with some warmer than normal weekends for this time of year, although it doesn’t look like that will be continuing for much longer (I think I saw flurries in the forecast)!

Stillwater fly fishing is still relatively new to me, as is fall fly fishing for trout since I’ve usually packed up my trout gear by now. Consequently, I’ve been doing a lot of learning and experimenting lately. Most days have been productive, albeit tough at times while trying to adapt to stillwater techniques and break my normal river fishing habits. It’s certainly been a relaxing time of year to be out on the water, with the fall colours and quiet cool days.

A nice looking rainbow trout caught on a sunny fall day

A nice looking rainbow trout caught on a sunny fall day

One of the more interesting discoveries for me has been the change in feeding habits of the trout at this time of year. Most of my success in the spring and summer was had via sinking lines and bead head streamers, with the odd fish taken near the surface (usually in the evenings). Nymphs and chironomids were also successful, but fished at similar depths. I’d see the odd fish rising, but fish were definitely deeper and spotting cruising fish was a fairly rare occurrence.

In contrast, most of my success this fall has been in much shallower water – usually 2-4 feet deep and often on the surface itself. When the water is clear (i.e. when it hasn’t rained for a couple days), it’s been a lot of sight fishing, which is always fun. A bushy dry fly such as a Stimulator, cast ahead of cruising fish has been one of my more successful approaches.

Even more reliable has been unweighted, beadless Woolly Buggers. These most basic of flies have finally found their forte for me, as they’re something I’d all but given up on many years ago. I still fish the weighted bead head versions with some frequency in rivers, as they can get down to the larger fish faster and have a much more life-like action to them. However, when it comes to fishing super slow in the top couple feet of the water column, I’ve found the classic beadless versions are perfect. As an added bonus, they can be fished as dry flies with a few false casts and/or stripped in the surface film. Smaller sizes, in the range of 6-12 seem to work best in the fall.

A large rainbow caught while sight fishing dry flies

A large rainbow caught while sight fishing dry flies

The above fish was one of many fish taken on a dry fly. It wasn’t the biggest fish of the day though: I caught a much larger rainbow (also on a dry fly) that wouldn’t fit in my net. A fellow angler watched in laughter as I unsuccessfully tried to net it 4 times, before giving up and quickly unhooking and releasing it in the water. Apparently a larger net is going to be on the Christmas list this year.

2 thoughts on “Fall Rainbows

  1. Hey, glad to see that the club is still going and that you’re enjoying it! Its been a handful of years since I stopped being a member but I’m thinking about returning this year, probably starting with the open house.

    Yes, stillwater fly fishing is a different beast altogether than river fishing. There’s a lot of info from the west coast, Phil Rowley is a good source and England has a lot of stillwaters with lots of info from that area.

    I had a lot of good days at the club, my best being one long dreary overcast day in the fall where I netted 100+.

    • I renewed my membership this year as well, though I haven’t been able to make it out there yet. 100+ fish in a day is pretty insane, even for a stocked pond! I’ve had some great days (not nearly that great), but also a few slow ones as well. I’ve read a bunch of Phil Rowley and Brian Chan’s stuff and have caught a few of their appearances on The New Fly Fisher.

      Good luck on the water this year – maybe I’ll see you at out there if you end up back at the glen.

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