September is a month I dream about all summer when its hot and humid and the trout are in survival mode, and this one has not disappointed. The fishing has been great the entire month. After the past 2 or 3 Septembers which have basically been a second August, I have been reminded why I liked this month so much in the first place. The weather has been perfect with highs in the 60's to low 70's and cool nights. We have had 2 frosts so far this season at my house. We are getting some much needed rain that will help the fishing even more. Rivers have been low and clear, but running at prime temps in the 50's to mid 60's. The big rivers have been great, and the mid sizes and small streams have been good but you must practice stealth.
It has been a pleasure to see lots and lots of wild trout in our rivers this fall. I've been all over our watersheds guiding and fishing and I have seen small wild rainbows in greater numbers than I can remember, just about everywhere I have gone. We've also seen good numbers of 12-14" fish and some nice 15" plus wild rainbows and browns. I have been amazed by the numbers of small wild fish every time I've been out considering how tough last summer was. Things certainly look good for the rest of fall and next season. There are also a decent number of stocked fish that have survived the summer which isn't a good thing, but shows that our trout were not too stressed this summer. There have been so many small wild fish that I think we could greatly reduce or end stocking in some rivers that currently get stocked.
The pattern for the entire month has been pretty similar, nymphs have produced best on sunny days, and then in the evening dry flies have been very good, though there have been some fish willing to eat dries all day everyday. On cloudy days we have done equally well or better on dries all day. The fish have been keying into specific bugs depending on the day, or have been willing to eat a wide variety the next. I've had days guiding where they wanted size 16 PT nymphs, and the next they've wanted size 20's. The same goes with dry flies. The Iso hatch has winded down and was very good this year. We were able to get quite a few fish on ISO dries and nymphs. Recently there have been great hatches of White Flies and good numbers of some sort of sulphur spinners around. The fish have been taking white bodied mayflies fairly well on most evenings. There seemed to be a lot of flying ant emergences in September and fish certainly were keying on them at times. As we get toward the end of september, BWO's will be more important and on cloudy rainy days will get a lot of fish rising on flats. BWO's really like rain to hatch. I remember floating with clients last year in October down a long flat. A small rain shower passed over and we looked back upriver where no fish had been rising and saw probably 8-10 fish eating on top. We slowly rowed back up and fooled a few on small BWO dries. I've been able to float only once after a rain event this fall, and I'm hoping we get more water to get some more floats in.
I hit a small to mid sized low gradient river that was running low and clear yesterday. Since fish have been looking up, I brought only a dry fly rod rigged with a 14' leader and single dry. Making long casts I was able to fool a nice wild brown trout in flat, deep water. The eat was probably my favorite eat I've had this entire season.
Now is a good time throw streamers as we get into fall. I have a client and friend that recently caught some good trout with an olive streamer while fishing on his own.
We are going to be entering a transition time for the trout in October once the water cools more. When temps get down closer to 50 look for fish more concentrated in deeper slower water. Currently they are spread anywhere throughout the river so fish everything, even skinny fast riffles. The salmon have been moving into the rivers but I have not been after them. Ill get to do a little scouting this weekend and I'm confident I'll find some.
I fished the first annual MadDog 2 Fly Tournament to benefit the VT Trout Unlimited Trout Camp. It was 2 person teams and you had to choose a single dry and single nymph to fish dry dropper all day. The biggest 6 fish won the tournament. John Synott and his partner took 1st, with 106 points, Matt Stedina and I took 2nd, with 103 points, and Jesse Haller and Ben Metcalf took 3 with 87 points. I got a little confused on the bonus point rules and only recorded 89 points at check in but it didn't matter either way with the standings. Tactically, Matt and I had the right flies but we didn't spend a lot of time fishing for the large stocked fish that made it through the summer. Perhaps we should have but I'm proud of the fact that we only scored 1 stocked fish and the rest were wild. The event had a lot of really good anglers and my teammates Jesse Haller and Matt Stedina from the Fly Fishing Team USA events all were able to finish on the podium. It was a good event and I'm looking forward to it next year.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers