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

I ended up leaving later Friday afternoon and headed to a favourite stretch of river, where I would wade for a few hours and eventually settle into a nice piece of water for some night fishing. This area is very picturesque to begin with, but add to it fall colours and it’s paradise. Driving up was definitely enough to put me in the mood:

Fall colours on the way to the river

The river was virtually empty, as usual. I saw one other angler at the access point and he was headed down another section than I was. I had the river basically all to myself for the remainder of the day.

I fished upstream for a few hours. The day fishing wasn’t overly productive, but it was decent. A number of small browns were caught in the 8-10 inch range. After a while, all the brown trout in this size start looking identical to each other, so I’ve basically stopped taking photos of them. I did manage to hook into a nicer (14-16″) brown that was holding in a small piece of slow moving water behind a fallen tree. It was a somewhat tricky spot to cast to with faster moving water beside and below it, but with a single drag-free cast, he slammed my Red Humpy. Unfortunately, one leap and a headshake later and my barbless hook came loose.

A nice brown was hooked and then lost in the little holding area behind this fallen tree

A couple more small fish were caught (and a couple lost) before dark began to set in. I equipped a headlamp, made my way to the spot I would settle into for a couple hours of night fishing, then waited for it to get dark enough for the big browns to come out. I was stripping Gurglers and foam mice. About an hour of fishing and I had a few mediocre splashes by some bantam weight browns – but they all either missing their target, or change their minds at the last moment. Then I changed two things:

  1. Changed from a size 6 Gurgler to a size 2.
  2. Started stripping faster.

The first cast that combined these two changes resulted in a tremendous take. I had him on for line for about 15 seconds, then my hook popped out… again a barbless hook, but I have a feeling I simply didn’t set the hook hard enough this time.

I thought I had the fish on long enough to spook the pool, but a couple casts later proved me wrong. I made sure to set the hook this time and it seemed like I was in for a good fight. This was a much bigger fish than the last one, likely 20″+. Unfortunately, my clumsiness would be my downfall yet again. I had too much line out and as I fumbled around in the dark trying to get the line out from under my feet and onto my reel, he leapt with a fierce head shake and snapped off my 4x tippet 🙁

Again, I quickly learned from my mistakes and decided to make two final changes:

  1. Changed from 4x tippet to 3x flourocarbon tippet: These big trout, in this light, are obviously not too picky about tippet size, or fly size for that matter. In fact, I’m sure I could get away with 2x.
  2. Made sure not to trim my knots too close (I had a feeling this caused my leader to tippet knot to break).

I missed a bunch more fish that night, or more likely, they missed (or dodged) my fly. I did manage to hook into and land one good fish, though not as large as the one lost before it.

Decent brown trout landed after several botched hook-ups before it

Saturday, September 29th

On Saturday, I decided to hunt Brook Trout as my trip the week prior served to wet my appetite with some nice looking brookies in full fall colours. I managed to get out at a much more respectable time (before noon), although I would have to skip the night fishing due to some unexpected rain and lack of proper rain gear.

Fishing was unexpectedly tough and I had to really work for the fish. I don’t mind though, as time on the water is rewarding even without catching fish. In fact, I probably walked more than I fished on Saturday, deciding to venture further downstream than I ever have in the past, where there are no access points and very infrequently fished water. This part of the river is slightly smaller than the brown trout water and is also a bit prettier.

Narrow stretch of brookie water

Brookie water: a bend in the river with some nice holding areas for trout

In total just a handful of fish were caught, mostly on Stimulators and a few on an Isonychia nymph – most were in the 7-8″ range. I actually experimented with a size 6 Gurgler for a couple minutes just before leaving… it was still light out and I had absolutely no expectation for it to work, especially on this brook trout water where the average fish size is much smaller. I was shocked however when a nice brookie slashed at my Gurgler only a few casts in! Not sure exactly how big it was, but by the size of the splash and sound it made, I’m guessing it was well over 12″. Fish missing this fly seems to be an extremely common occurrence, that’s for sure…

Several Brook Trout like this in the 8″ range were caught Saturday

Another brookie: small, but always fun on a light rod

Sunday, September 30th

Truthfully, I wasn’t supposed to fish on Sunday. My wife had planned to go to a cooking show in Toronto and I was staying home to spend some well deserved time with the kids. I was completely fine with this, especially since I was able to put in so many hours the previous two days and the forecast was originally showing rain Sunday.

The plan was for my wife to be gone most of the day – coming home at dinner time or later. So, I was surprised when she opened the door at 3:00 pm, which was much earlier than we had expected her back. At this point I had spent several hours with the kids and was feeling a little less guilty about my fishing the previous two days, so I got the idea in my head that I might get a chance to sneak out for one final try at evening fishing. Surprisingly, my amazingly understanding wife was OK with this.

Even better, the weatherman lied, again… it was sunny with a few clouds all day. Although I had clearance to leave, I wasn’t in much of a rush and decided to spend 2.5 more hours at home with the kids. Finally, when playtime was done and everyone was heading inside for the night, I left for a few more hours of alone time on my favourite river.

Last wade down the river for 2012

By the time I arrived, suited up and walked in, it was about 6:30 pm – so I had under 1 hour before dark. Needless to say, I spent only a short amount of time casting some dry flies in some runs and riffles, where I had a few rises from some browns. But it was the night fishing I was really here for – I felt like I had finally put the pieces together Friday night and was ready to land some big browns.

While the theme of fish slashing at my fly and missing definitely kept up, I managed to lose a single fish and land two others that I hooked into. They were both caught on a size 2 Gurgler and one of the fish was most likely my largest Brown to date. I haven’t figured out exactly how big he was yet, but it should be easy when I get around to it since I have a shot of him next to my fly rod. He was definitely over 20″ and in fact, he was much too big for my net, so I had to land him by hand.

A respectable smaller brown trout landed Sunday night.

A respectable smaller brown trout landed Sunday night.

Big brown trout: last fish of trout season 2012 and probably my new record trout!

Big brown trout: last fish of trout season 2012 and probably my new record trout!

Releasing the big fish of the night.

Releasing the big fish of the night.

2012 definitely went out on a positive note and left me itching for 2013, which is 7 long months away… One last shot of the hero Gurgler that took so much abuse over the last few days and lived to tell the tale.

The hero Gurgler that was chewed on by many a trout this past weekend


3 thoughts on “2012 Trout Closing Weekend

  1. Great post,read the whole thing.I also fish for river browns at night,thought I was the only guy in Ontario that did,lol.Even though I don,t use flies for them,I,ve always found hot ,humid,calm nights are the best time to go for them.Caught and released a large hooked jawed male a couple weeks back,one of the finest wild trout I,ve ever seen.It,s amazing how big these browns can get in such small streams if you know where to go.Thanks for not posting where you fish for them,real trout fishermen keep these spots a secret. Ted

    • Hey Ted, congrats on catching that big male brown. The dark of night brings out some mean fish, that’s for sure! It’s surprising how careless they sometimes become when the sun sets. I was actually out tonight until about midnight and I missed three nice fish. I don’t think I’ve landed a brown at night yet this year, but I sure have hooked and lost a bunch!!

  2. Thanks Steve,the lack of hot humid nights this summer has made the big browns elusive for me,hopefully I,ll hit a few more before it ends.Who knows maybe I,ll cross paths with you one these nights,cheers and good luck to you. Ted

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