Welcome to Montana Trout Fishing!

Bringing you up-to-date information for fishing around Bozeman Montana. Feel free to Email me anytime at Norbaracer13@gmail.com!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Quick Tips: Fall Trout Fishing

Fall is a beautiful time to be in the river. (East Gallatin)
         Fall has certainly made an appearance in my part of the country. This time of year is known to be one of the best seasons for fly fishermen. The waters are low and clear. The summer tourists are long gone. The big browns swim out from cover looking to feast upon an abundance of food, food that will help them survive the winter. Colder temperatures shut down the highly productive insect cycles and slow the trout's metabolism. They need to stock up in order to survive the harsh months ahead. Think of a bear in pursuit of food before hibernating; when bears are often causing the most trouble. It's then that they lose their ability to rationalize and think adequatly, pushing their limits to find sustenance. Large browns will go out of their boundaries too. They realize that they need to act when the opportunity arises instead of waiting until conditions are just right. Big fish are less likely to be pushed into cover for the majority of the day, only coming out to feed at night, when they are desperately trying to get fit for winter. After the leaves have changed and before the snow constantly falls, big fish swim hungry under the ever lowering sun. Its fall when the twice-a-year angler can dawn his waders and head to the river with significantly greater chances of hooking into a trophy fish.

        I realize that to catch more fish you must increase your odds of doing so as much as possible. That sounds simple enough, and it really is, but that must always be on the top of your mind if you want to be successful. Taking that, we can break down the best times of the year and focus on the type of fishing for each. My two favorite times of the year are after the spring run-off and during fall. I have focused a lot of my attention on learning how to fish post run-off. I have learned the about the insects that hatch that time of year, where the fish are holding, how rising water levels will effect them, etc. I literally imagined myself as a fish trying to survive, thinking like a fish in every aspect, I almost felt loony. We can do the same for fall fishing. We know it is one of the best times of the year to wet a line, so why not learn all we can to fish it even better?

Fall trout feeding on BWO's
      I really could write for pages on this subject, but will try and share some big points. The trout, especially the large ones, need energy to survive the upcoming harshness of winter. A lot of animals die every year in this part of the country, including trout, because food becomes sparse. The caddis and mayfly cycles almost come to a halt in the middle of winter. Terrestrials are rarely seen on the banks, let alone in front of a hungry trout. Even the sculpins and crayfish slow down and burrow into the mud and rocks. The whole underwater scene that is so prolific with life during warmer months turns into a gloomy, dark, cold deathtrap for any living creature ill-prepared. That being said, the fish are hungry in the fall! The high sun and clear skies which make trout weary are turning into shorter days and overcast skies. Big browns have free range in any water they desire. Try fishing those places that held no fish in the summer. The shallow riffles that were too warm in the summer are now as cold as any other part of the river. Remember this and apply it to your waters. Knowing the above will boost your morale and help you catch big fish. Fall is also great time to fish streamers shallow with floating line, whereas during the summer, you would need a sink tip line to fish deep during the hot days.

       Large streamers are known to take hungry browns during fall, but don't forget about the tiny midges. My fall setup is often a large lead fly, say a salmonfly nymph, above a tiny #20 blood midge, or zebra midge. Midges are one of the few foods that trout prey upon year round. You can bet that midge hatches happen almost everyday during the deep winter months. The idea of big fish on tiny flies is intrigueing yet can be extremely frustrating. My largest trout was a Madison River hog, hooked in the lip with a #22 lightning bug. He held on for five minutes but the hook quickly came flying out of his mouth when he left the water that one last time. Despite that, fishing small flies into fall is a must to catch large numbers. Another excellent fall pattern are small pheasant tails. This time of year, the Blue Winged Olive is a common site in western waters. Pale Morning Duns and Pale Evening duns also commonly rise from the rivers during fall. PMDs and BWOs are the two dry flies you will want to have in your box, along with all of the stages of these bugs lives. You will want to imitate the size more so than you did during summer. Some of these fish have been thrown every fly since run-off and havent yet had a winter to get adjusted to less pressured life in the stream. The water during fall tends to be low and very clear. Concentrated fish are a good thing, but they are weary, and will become less weary as the need for food becomes more important.

         So there you have it. Since there is so much more I could discuss, I give you now the basics to fall trout fishing. Maybe I will make a part two for fall 2015. I hope the novice fly fisherman can learn something from this or perhaps the intermediate angler can reinforce their thoughts on the subject. If you're an expert reading this, please feel free to email me and share your thoughts on fall fishing. The sport of fly fishing is a lot like golf, a whole lifetime is not enough to learn every single aspect. I share the same desire as many of you do in pursuing fish and I hope to help anyone having trouble figuring out the riddles of fly fishing for trout. Tight lines all! -Mike


  1. Are you planning on blogging for 2015? If so, when will you start?

  2. Yes, I plan to get back at it soon. I have a few posts in the making and I try to update the reports every week. I haven't missed a beat fishing though. I appreciate your interest in my blog, check back soon please!

  3. Just read your article. Good one. I liked it. Keep going. you are a best writer your site is very useful and informative thanks for Sharing best spinning reel.