Fall Brown, caught with my 7'6" 4wt. “Shawnee Rose”
on a #20 Black quilled suspender midge
With a consistent cool breeze the flotsam piles up during the fall on edges, seam lines, and sweepers along the river banks in the North East. This is a period of time when the fish are foraging and becoming quite picky when it comes to surface feeding. I use to fish scuds especially hard in the fall but over the years have taken to surface fishing year round. I simply enjoy dry fly fishing over any other type of fishing period, especially in the fall.
Fall dry fly fishing takes perseverance, patience, and focus. There is so much floating in the water that both Trout and angler become distracted. I have a fly box dedicated to late fall midges, typically fore and aft designs and micro parachute suspender midges in black and gray sizes #20, #24, and #26. With water levels low and typically clear I fish 6x and 7x with a 14 foot leader. I usually fish my “Johnny Logan”, or “Little Mecoche” rods, 4wts. on the lighter side of the scale. In medium sized water I take out my “Shawnee Rose” a 7'6" 4wt. I approach dry fly fishing in November and December with my expectations in check, an open mind, and tend to squint and stare a lot. Walking significant distances, and moving on the water makes it always more productive as well. The subtle fall sipping of a Brown Trout is a beautiful thing to watch. If you decide to place a fly that is not on the Trout menu you will see them make a bee-line for the nearest sweeper or undercut. I have found over the years, based on my location, that black midges are my most consistent best bet. The smaller the better. I use black quills that I strip and dye myself to create a slight segmentation and use either black or med dun hackle.
#20 quilled parachute midge and my fore and aft quilled midge
Fall fishing really is a time for reflection, introspection, and a little space. A sense of pause after a summer that is sometimes filled with a results oriented mindset, during hatches or perfect conditions. I recently had an interesting occurrence on the Mad River down the street from my house. While waiting out some nice browns under a bush for twenty minutes, I sat very still, almost to the point that my leg started to fall asleep. Wearing my floppy green canvas hat and dark ochre colors I must have looked like a pile leaves, or interesting lichens from above. A chipmunk pounced on my head, scurried counterclockwise, made an audible shriek, and managed to scare the crap out of me. A “chipmunk swirlly”, as a friend of mine called it. I suppose I felt a certain level of cunning satisfaction from this little occurrence because I blended in so well with the fall colors. I could only hope that a trout would jump on my head for the same reasons.