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What works for you trout fishing in the late fall?

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I always seem to struggle with trout fishing in the late fall once the water temps start dropping to match up with the air.  The Brooks and Browns spawn and the fish get sluggish.  The local prevailing wisdom is to fish the bottom with small flies (#18 or less).  I spent the better part of 2 vacation days last week fishing small flies dead drift near the bottom with nothing to show for my efforts. 3 weeks ago I had 15 fish in 6 hours on the same water.  Down to my final couple of hours of daylight, I decided would fish my way back to where I parked.  Since this meant heading downstream a good distance, I decided to swing a pair of winged wets to cover as much of the river as possible.  Right away I got a wild brown to hit a #10 Silver Invicta and later both a brown and bow to grab a #12 Royal Coachman wet on a downstream swing.  The water was generally 3’ to 4’ deep, fast and there was no weight on my line so the flies were swinging near the surface.  Considering nothing was hitting my upstream nymphs or soft hackles the wet fly presentation saved my day.  As much as I would love to think I solved the riddle of late Autumn trout fishing my brain is telling maybe the warmth of the afternoon sun just woke a few of them up?  

 Anyway I'm planning on fishing again this weekend and would like to hear what your go to flies and techniques are when the temps start to drop? 

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Streamers are my go to flies this time of year.Cover a lot of water, stripping crosscurrent.One or two casts in the likely looking lies is all you need.If he's going to take it will usually be then.I like bigger sculpin patterns sz 2's 4's and 6's.Zoo Cougars,Wooly Sculpins,Buggers,etc.On heavier pocket water I'll switch to larger stonefly nymphs.

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I know what you mean, last time I was on the stream I was only able to hook up after I switched over to swinging wets/small streamers. 

In our area, I don't think its a case of low water temps affecting their feeding habits yet, as much as it is a change in the bugs present in the water, mainly as you pointed out, small ones.  I think a dead drift is overemphasized.  A little movement seems to get their attention, particularly the smaller the fly.  All those little bits flowing downstream, I want my fly to move against or counter to the current a little.  Leonard Wright writes about this in reference to fishing dries in 'Trout Maverick', I'm sure others have also. 

On the other hand, fishing little streamers is great fun, especially in the case you described, when the trout slashes at the surface as it tries to hit a barely sunken fly skittering just below the riffles.  Enjoy it until the real cold weather comes along.  

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Another one for streamers, browns and brookies are in their fall spawning cycle and if they don't want to eat it then they want to get it out of their area. I use a white death bunny streamer , white marabou, or alaska mary ann to start, then if that doesn't get results I go to sculpin, muddlers, or black marabou leeches . The white death fishes very well dead drifted or swinging and retrieved.

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Wow-  I have to say I didn't expect to see streamers mentioned so much.  My own bias has me thinking of streamers as warm weather flies and it never occurred to me to use them during or after the spawn.  Years ago when I was new to fly fishing I had a fly shop owner recommend that I not fish anything big after the spawn and I took that as gospel.  I generally don't do a lot of November/December fishing so my experience is lacking for the late fall, but this year it's been warm locally.  Based on the behavior of the fish last week streamers makes sense.  A #10 swinging winged wet fly isn't too different in presentation than a small streamer and that's what they were hitting on.    Thank you all for your advice!

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The big browns are moving upstream to spawn in the fall and they are bulking up for the winter.

If you have a dam or an impassable obstruction that stops the upstream migration, the browns get stacked up there and the fishing can be tremendous. A full sinking line is best and a sink tip is next best. Floating line is my last choice.

 

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I also like the streamer idea. I've used either a Thunder Creek Black Nosed Dace imitation, or the following dressing - silver tinsel, short red throat, yellow marabou wing, black head tied in small sizes such as an 8 or 10...deadly!!

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Streamers are a great go to in my opinion ,i seem to cover a lot of area on the river, a few years ago i read some article about a mouse,lol it makes sense based on the time of year ....mice are making nestsin wood piles and in high grasses ,trout like to bulk up going into winter , i tyed up a few on #8/#10 .....dark brown, you will use up some deer hair , slow moving water , consistant movement ...worked well lol i had three and they gor pretty tore up , trout were aggressive on this.  Have fun.  

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Let fall, egg patterns work pretty well if there are browns in the river. An egg sucking leech is good too.  Leech, baetis nymph, midge. 

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