Finally, the air and river temps have cooled from mid summer readings. Much the same way winter did not want to end, neither did our summer. Though we are still seeing warmer than average temps for the date, fishing has been good. River temps are great, trout are feeding, and salmon are beginning to move. River levels remain very low which has made small and mid sized streams more of a challenge to fish, and the large rivers very easy to wade. Focus on pocket water, deeper depressions in any long riffles, and deep pools.
This September is certainly not a typical one. The leaves are just starting to change colors which is very late, it has been as dry as I can remember, and it looks like the month will go down as the warmest September on record. What does this mean for our spawning trout and salmon? Well, from what I have found is that things are behind as well. Much of this could be the lack of rain. We could really use some significant precipitation to get our river levels up. I think when we get our next big push of water (that doesn't look like it will happen anytime in the next week or so) we will see the salmon moving in greater numbers, and browns moving into their spawning grounds. That being said, there are a few salmon around and I landed the first one of the season last week, not a huge fish but thats OK. I did hook a few more, and had two break me off in some vegetation, a few of them were good fish. I absolutely love to hook these salmon for a couple reasons. One, they grow big, and the possibility of hooking a fish weighing double digits is real. Two, typically the second you hook one of these fish they are screaming out of the water, and they do not come to hand easily. Infact last week I hooked a fish tight line nymphing on a short line, and it came out of the water towards me and grazed my shoulder as I flailed out of the way. The fish came unbuttoned and I got a nice splash in the face! I have found that a lot of these fish are lost right off the bat. If you can keep it on the line for longer than the first few seconds, you are doing well. I had success both nymphing with dark stoneflies and caddis larvae, and with small traditional salmon streamers. Again, when we get some rain things should pick up nicely as the fish are starting to think about spawning.
As for trout, the fish are eating. They know winter is coming and are trying to put on weight. They are especially hungry since they were stressed from the warm water a few weeks ago. I have found the fishing remains great until the water really starts to cool. As long as it stays in the mid to upper 50's and 60's thing will be good. It usually slows once we get cooler than that. From the looks of the forecast we should be good for a while. Be prepared for everything this time of year. Streamers are a great option especially for aggressive large browns moving toward their spawning grounds, I usually have two rods ready with a nymph rig and a dry fly, or just one rod with a dry dropper, depending on the water I choose to fish. The fish are still looking up and will take Iso imitations even though the hatch has waned. Additionally Northern Casemaker Caddis Flies will be hatching. These are a large caddis around size 10-12. The adult female swims underwater to lay her eggs on the rocks, so a small orange wet fly or streamer is a top choice to swing through each run and pool. Additionally BWO's are present, especially on cloudy wet days. As for nymphs, a zug bug, orange caddis pupa, and small baetis nymphs are the top choice. I generally fish one of the former and then a small #18-22 flash back PT or red copper john off the bend of the larger hook. One more thing, learn to Identify a redd and please don't walk on them.
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Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers