Fall fishing is one of our favorite times of the year at Snake River Fly. Sure, the glory hatches are dwindling and the days get shorter and nights get longer, but the fishing can be amazing! Matching the hatch this time of year can be tougher than in mid summer. Typically the bugs get smaller and the fish can be selective after a long summer of anglers casting everything in the box at them. However, The fall fisherman can find trout willing to play if they switch their tactics to match the food source available.
Minnows and other baitfish that have spent most of the summer in the shallow and protective waters near shore are forced to the main stream as river flows drop. Matching the size and type of minnows is key here. Patterns like the SRF Bugger, Krinklezon Clouser and the Sparkle Minnow are favorites. Bigger tippet is a luxury after using 4 and 5X all summer. 3X and larger is ok most of the time. Present minnow patterns up and across and vary retrieves until you find what is working. Remember, most baitfish will swim across or down stream to escape from a larger fish.
There are still hatching insects this time of year in many of our waters. BWO's or Blue Wing Olive Mayflies tend to hatch on overcast wet days. Fish love BWO's and will feed heavily during a hatch. Most tend to be smaller than the Mayflies of summer. Size 16-20 are typical and can vary in color from grey to light olive. Look for slower water, seamlines and back eddies to hold feeding fish. Pay attention to the surface for the rising fish. Parachute Adams, Sparkle Duns, CDC emergers and cripples work best for rising fish. Smaller bead head flies such as Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and Rainbow warriors should do the trick early on in the hatch.
Other aquatic insects are also available during the fall and should be carried in the fly box this time of year. Annelids or aquatic worms make up a large part of a trout's diet in the fall and winter. San Juan worm patterns can be very affective fished below a strike indicator. We like the Bullwhip, Jelly and Wire worms in red and pink on the Snake and surrounding waters. Scuds and Snails also get fishes attention right now. Black, brown and olive soft hackles work well for a good snail pattern and the Ray Charles in pink, orange, grey and olive makes for a great Scud pattern.
The most important aquatic food source in colder months has to be the Midge or Chironomid. These insect are present in nearly all bodies of water and are a favorite snack for fish in moving and still waters. The majority of fish will feed on the insect as it swims to the surface to hatch. Fly patterns need to be small to match the naturals and can be fished below a hopper or a strike indicator. Our favorite set up is the "Vertical Rig" we sell at the shop and online. The Vertical Rig is very sensitive to strikes and very easy to use. We have a video on Youtube channel to explain how its set up. As far as fly patterns go to imitate midge, we like basic Zebra Midges in black, red, olive, brown and grey. We also fish Snowcones and the Gristle Bug to match the emerging midge.
If fish are taking midge on top, a shop favorite is the Griffiths Gnat and the Double Post Midge. Emergers like black RS2's and Serendipities will also take rising fish in the Fall and Winter.
We hope to see ya out on the water or in the shop this fall.
Larry and Brandon
Links to some of our favorite patterns below!