If I had to pick one word to describe fishing and the month of November it would be ‘Change’.
We’ve got all kinds of weather going on around the state right now but for the most part, it’s been an extremely mild beginning to the month so far. I just glanced at the 10 day forecast on weather.com and it looks like the trend is going to continue. The 10th month of the year wasn’t much different either but unless you spent all 31 days locked indoors, you already know that.
And while the folks who make their living selling lift tickets and snowboards might not be that excited about how this Fall has been treating us, I have a feeling if you’re a fly angler you’ve been doing all you can to be on the river as much as possible lately. It’s just been damn good out there. Of course if you have been on the river much lately well, you already know that too.
Okay, so here we are in November and the fishing is going strong. That said, despite the pleasant Fahrenheit readings that seem to have become the norm (for now) the tools necessary for success compared to a few months back have certainly changed.
While I’ve still seen the odd caddis or two making an appearance on some of my recent trips, there’s no denying it’s been the bwo’s and midges that are getting the game ball in the eyes of the trout these days.
And I like that.
I guess the easiest benefit to note with this narrowing of the bug life is that it sure makes fly selection a whole lot simpler. But even with that being said, I’ve still never been one to obsess over fly selection. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written, you’ve undoubtedly heard me mention things along the lines of “Fish a ‘make sense fly’ and fish it perfect” more than once. I still believe this is always going to trump the exact ‘right’ fly 99% of the time.
(To read a few more of my thoughts on this topic of fly selection click HERE. )
I’ve been on the water quite a bit lately and it seems these same 5 flies are really all I’ve needed to consistently put fish in the net…or I guess I should say, “for my customers to put fish in the net”.
Barr’s BWO Emerger- Simple and effective. For whatever reason I’ve been reaching for this over the good ol’ juju baetis more and more lately. Not sure why this is the case (I still love a jujubaetis) but it’s working. I guess that’s all that really matters in the end. Size 18 or 20. They’re both working equally well.
Red Copper John- I like red in the fall. Always have. Probably always will. I’ve also been guiding on the Dream Stream and Deckers a lot and this fly always seems to add at least a couple fish to the day’s total every time I hit the water. Size 18 or 20. Curved hook or straight shank. It really hasn’t seemed to matter.
Mayer’s Mini-Leech- I LOVE leeches. There’s really no other way to start that out. I tie a few leech variations of my own as well but for an off-the-shelf option, this is a great way to go. To me leeches are a ‘commit to it’ type of pattern. Some days it seems the fish are just hammering them. Other days you may go 2 or 3 hours without so much as a sniff. One thing I can promise you though is that if you stick to the leech game this time of year it’s almost always going to be good for at least one or two very large fish throughout the day. Sometimes more. Another reason I think leeches work so well this time of year is that it provides a good, non-escaping protein source that is not an egg. Our local fish are seeing a lot of eggs this time of year and showing them something a little different is never a bad idea. Black or Brown. Size 14….but I’m sure they’d still eat a 16.
Egg- Wait, didn’t I just say these fish are seeing a lot of eggs and to show them something different? The good ol’ egg is still making daily appearances for me however the primary goal isn’t to catch big browns on it. It’s to catch big rainbows and cutbows. Fishing egg patterns in the closest deep water below a redd is a great way to land some very large fish right now. Rainbows and cutbows will stage in these areas eating eggs that are being washed down from the spawning fish up above. Sight fishing to lone rainbows/cutbows up cruising the shallows can also be very effective with an egg.
D-Midge- Now here’s something a little different that I bet many of you don’t carry in your fly box (but should). Designed by Dennis Miller of Almont, CO the D-Midge is a great ‘do all’ type of pattern for this time of year. Kinda ‘midgy’. Kinda ‘baetisy’. All around just a super fishy fly that I have a ton of confidence in. I like it in grey, but it’s also available in a variety of colors. Size 20 is typically my go-to.
Good luck out there this fall and as always, please let us know what we can do to help make your time on the water more enjoyable and productive!