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

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2013 Trout Closing Weekend

Last weekend marked the end of the 2013 trout fishing season here in Ontario for most inland rivers and streams. It’s hard to believe it’s come and gone so fast and we have a long 7 months to wait until we can fish for local resident trout again. It still irks me that nearly all of our rivers here are special regulations (catch and release only, artificial, single point barbless hook), yet we still have such short fishing seasons. Not only does it mean we’re stripped of our favourite pastime for more than half of the year, but it also means money lost by both small and large businesses related to fly fishing: fly shops, big box stores, tourism, etc. Yes, there’s bass (until December) and Steelhead fishing opportunities – and I appreciate that. But for many, including myself, it’s just not the same. Using many of the top resident trout fisheries in the US as an example, it’s easy to see that it can be very viable to keep special regulations trout water open for a much longer season, if not the entire year.

This is my favourite time of year to fish. The scenery is at its peak with the fall colours and fish are becoming more aggressive as they beef up for the coming spawning and winter seasons.

I love fishing small, quiet water like this during the fall

I love fishing small, quiet water like this during the fall

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Fall is in the Air

Fall is still more than a couple weeks away, but you can already feel it fast approaching. We’re now into September, the last month of trout fishing in Southern Ontario. Days are getting shorter, nights are getting cooler and the weather is becoming a lot less predictable.

I figured I would take the opportunity to get out for some night fishing over the Labour Day weekend, while the water is still warm enough. The weather wasn’t exactly ideal, with rain and thunderstorms on and off the entire weekend. I’m no meteorologist or expert when it comes to weather and its effect on fish, but there are a number of theories about how weather and barometric pressure affects fish activity. While it’s convenient to use lousy weather as an excuse for not catching fish, I can only confirm that fishing was indeed difficult.

Driving into some ominous looking clouds

Driving into some ominous looking clouds

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2012 Trout Closing Weekend

Well, trout season is officially over here in southern Ontario, which means my fishing days are going to be limited to some remaining warm water fishing (bass, pike) and possibly some steelhead fishing if I can manage to find a place and time where the crowds aren’t too bad.

My wife graciously agreed to let me spend way too much time on the water this past weekend, to finish off the trout season. I took Friday off work and managed to get out for three consecutive days, all of which were spent on different sections of my favourite local river. By the way, you’ll notice that I rarely mention river names or locations. This is on purpose, in an effort to avoid random lazy people from typing a couple words into Google and going away with sensitive and hard earned fishing locations. If you really want to know where I fish… well, I probably won’t tell you unless you’re family or friend 🙂  But, you’re more than welcome to ask.

Anyway, on with the report!

Friday, September 28th

Friday was supposed to be a full day of fishing, but I slept in a bit more than I would have liked and as usual, I needed to do some last-minute fly tying to top up my box. The main ties included a bunch of Red Humpy dry flies (which are always productive on this river), as well as a number of Simulators and a couple Gartside Gurglers for a bit of night fishing.

Lots of Stimulators in sizes 12-14 would be the main go-to fly during the days

Gartside Gurgler (size 6) for hopefully enticing some hungry Browns at night

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Chinook on the Fly

There’s a section of river about five minutes from my house which, although nice looking, isn’t usually worth fishing due to its location between dams. However, for a few weeks during spring and fall, this section of river comes alive with big migratory fish that gain access via a fish ladder on the dam several miles downstream.
Historically, I haven’t fished much for salmon or steelhead – I normally prefer resident trout waters, where the crowds are less and the fish are (in my opinion) prettier. Since this section of river is close to home though and one of the lesser fished stretches, I figured I’d give it a try for a couple hours before work.
The river seemed pretty empty when I arrived, but a walk downstream showed a much different picture: lots of Chinook salmon cruising the shallows. I’ve never targeted Chinook on the fly and I’d say I’m not very well equipped to deal with them. An 8wt rod (intended for steelhead fishing) with 12 lb tippet suddenly feels very inferior when you imagine hooking these freight trains. Unfortunately though, this would have to do as it’s the heaviest setup I currently own.
Well, it did… sorta. I hooked 2 fish, one of which lasted a mere couple of seconds before it bent my hook completely straight, bringing me to the realization that large hooks are a necessity for these beasts.

A Chinook Salmon landed during some morning fishing before work

It’s mind boggling how strong these fish are. This was my first Chinook and considering the fact that it was probably an average sized fish, I can’t imagine what a large one could do. I’ve caught plenty of other large fish in the past, but nothing has come even remotely close to the girth and power of this thing.
Since the fishing days are numbered, I decided to tie a handful of salmon flies tonight and will be heading back tomorrow morning for some revenge. Here’s hoping my equipment makes it through!

Trout Season is Fading

It seems like trout fishing season (open May-September on most waters here) was barely existent this year.  Now, there’s only one week left before it’s gone. Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak out a couple more times next week, before or after work and on the weekend.

I absolutely loving fishing in the fall.  Cool crisp temperatures and colours galore, on both the trees and the fish. Yesterday was full of walking and roller coasters, as I took my son to Canada’s Wonderland, but today I managed to get out for a few hours of fishing. Normally I would choose to fish my favourite brown trout water this time of year, but seeing as how I failed to catch any fish during my Algonquin trip, I thought I’d try to make amends and head to some brookie water today.

Fishing was pretty slow for most of the day. Rain was off and on and temps were quite cold, but overall it was great to be out. I managed to catch a few small brookies in the first couple hours – nothing to brag about, but better than nothing.  I also took a break to watch a beaver that lives in this section of the river (I’ve seen him here for several years now).

Resident Beaver chilling out on a rock in the middle of the river

I started out casting dry flies and eventually switched to a small streamer since there wasn’t anything happening on the surface. The streamer provided 2 hits, but no fish landed.  As daylight faded, I approached a nice stretch of water and decided to go back to dries. I tied on a size 12 stimulator and the second cast produced a nice brookie.

Nice colourful resident Brook Trout caught on a Stimulator

I had hiked in quite a way from my car and it would be a long walk back. Since I packed my headlamp, I figured I’d push my luck and stay a while longer and hike back in the dark. Then it hit me… I had put my headlamp in my fishing net in the car… and now I was wearing my fishing net on my back. Unfortunately, the lamp was no longer in the net. It had obviously fallen out somewhere along my trek today, which took me through a lot of heavy brush. Not only did this mean I just lost my new $50 headlamp, but it also meant I had to stop fishing if I wanted to avoid stumbling back the 30 minute hike in dark without a light. Doh!

Big Crow: There and Back Again

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September 2012: Big Crow
A 5 day trip to Big Crow Lake in the Algonquin backcountry