for Fall Stillwater Fly Fishing
by Brian Chan and Philip Rowley
fall air temperatures brings on renewed trout feeding activity in our
interior trout lakes. Trout will feed on the few remaining chironomid
and mayfly hatches of the season and then rely heavily on non-hatch food
items. Fall fishing often means catching fish in very shallow water. Trout
feed aggressively in an attempt to put on as much body fat before winter
a look at 5 key food sources and representative fly patterns that should
be in every flyfisher's tackle bag. I have found that the trout's urge
to feed at this time of year means one can get away with simple or less
imitative fly patterns. It is more important to fish the fly where the
trout are and again, it is the shallow water zone that we should be focusing
our attention on.
Chenille: Bead Head Leech
an extremely important food source during those last couple of months
before freezeup. They are a big food item and no hungry trout will pass
one up. Leeches are long lived aquatic worms that can be found living
at almost all depths of a lake. It's always wise to fish leeches when
you see them free swimming in the water. During the late fall period leeches
will congregate in the shallow water zone of the lake. You will see them
under logs, rocks and among the submergent vegetation. Predominant leech
colours are black, brown, mottled brown and green and mottled black and
maroon. I like to use plastic chenille woolly bugger type leech patterns
during the fall. Plastic chenille is bright and flashes in the water.
A palmered body hackle and marabou tail enhances the fly's motion when
retrieved. A metal bead completes the fly by adding more flash and undulating
motion. Remember, fall fish are hungry and flashy, noisy flies work.
of chironomids have more than a one year life cycle which means larval
stages that must over-winter in the lake. These larvae can reach upwards
of 25 mm in length. Predominant larval colours are maroon, red and green.
Chironomid larvae are a highly preferred late fall food item of trout.
Maroon and red larvae are known as bloodworms. Larval patterns should
have distinct ribbing to emphasize the segmented body of these worm-like
morsels. I like to use body materials like Super Floss, Larva Lace, acetate
floss and appropriately coloured yarns. Try ribbing your patterns with
fine silver, copper or gold wires. Chironomid larvae have tiny prolegs
at either end of their body, so you may want to use a small tuft of marabou
as a tail. Begin fishing larval patterns close to the bottom and gradually
work them higher in the water column. The retrieve for chironomid larvae
is dead slow, much like the chironomid pupal imitation.
Plastic Chenille: Shrimp
never leave home without shrimp patterns. They are readily available trout
food at all times of the year. However, in the late fall they become very
important diet items as the name of the game is putting on body fat. Most
of the interior lakes of B.C. have abundant shrimp populations. Shrimp
live in the shallow shoal areas of a lake in amongst the bottom vegetation.
Predominant colours are light olive to dark olive green. Shrimp seldom
reach over 30 mm in length. Their bodies are covered with a semi-translucent
chitinous exoskeleton that gives them the segmented appearance. Many shrimp
patterns utilize a plastic or thin rubber shellback over a body material
of seals fur or synthetic dubbing materials. When tying a dubbed body
make sure you pick out fibres to form the swimmeret legs that protrude
from the underside of the shrimp body. Don't be afraid to fish shrimp
patterns tight to the shoreline or edges of cattail or bulrush patches.
Hungry fall trout will not hesitate to dine on shrimp in water less than
50 cm deep.
rainbow trout certainly have a preference for immature damselfly nymphs.
Damselflies can spend up to 3 years in the nymphal stage so it makes sense
to have some patterns in your fall box of flies. I have found that trout
will often eat very small damsel patterns so I tie them up on #12 and
#14 shrimp/pupae hooks for fall use. Look for the damselfly nymphs on
shoals that have abundant bottom vegetation and emergent vegetation like
bulrush patches. Fish these patterns on floating and intermediate sinking
lines from just subsurface to right on the bottom. Each lake will have
their own colour variations of damselfly nymphs. Most common colours are
all shades of green and brown. Marabou feathers are an excellent material
to tie damselfly nymphs. For added fly action try tying some patterns
with small metal bead heads. The bead will give the fly more action as
it drops through the water and the flash of the bead can be a great strike
triggering mechanism. Damselfly nymphs are best fished on floating and
slow sinking fly lines. A moderately slow 8 to 15 cm long strip retrieve
interspersed with short pauses is effective for imitating these insects.
Plastic Chenille: Water Boatman
breathing beetles engage in swarming and mating flights during the fall
months. Telltale signs of their arrival is the appearance of large raindrops
hitting the surface of the lake on bright sunny days. The Boatman are
returning to the lake to deposit eggs. Upon hitting the surface of the
water they dive down to the lake bottom to deposit eggs. These insects
can hit the water anywhere on the lake so anglers must be prepared to
fish them mid-lake and in water less than one metre in depth. Boatman
envelope their abdomen in a bubble of air before they dive down into the
water. This gives them a very silvery appearance which could be a major
feeding trigger for trout. Fly tiers should keep this fact in mind when
selecting tying materials. Boatman also have an elongated pair of legs
that propels them in an oar-like fashion though the water. Try patterns
with elongated rubber legs protruding from the sides of the fly. Boatman
falls are best imitated with either full sinking lines to imitate the
dive down and swim back up in deep water or floating and slow sinking
lines for shallow water activity. Keep your retrieves short and erratic
and hold on tight to the rod as strikes are often very hard.
Take a look
at Phil's Fly
Box for some other excellent stillwater patterns. Enjoy the fall season,
it is short but offers some of the most exciting fishing of the year.
information on fishing BC's lakes in Autumn, be sure to read Understanding
Fall Fishing by Brian Chan.