With the days becoming more and more chilly and the season slowly turning from fall to winter, it is now time to swallow your pride and get the indicator rigs out. Subsurface is the ticket right now with the fish starting to settle in the deeper holes and buckets. This is also the time of year when smaller midge nymphs seem to be a great fly of choice with fish eating as much as they can before winter. My go to patterns this time of year are zebra midge’s in black or red, shop-vacs, three dollar dips (especially the red ones). I hate to say it but another very effective nymph set up this time of year is the old Italian classic, the spaghetti and meatballs (worm and an egg). Making sure you are getting your flies down towards the bottom is key this time of year. If you are fishing your rig and not feeling your flies tapping the bottom you need to add some split shot or a heavier fly. After all, the majority of these fish are hanging out deep in the buckets in the hard to reach places.
Stripping streamers can produce a big angry fish but also can leave you casting all day with not much action. The streamer bite is really hit or miss right now, some days they will be chasing and others they don’t want anything to do with it. You should be able to tell very quickly if these fish are interested in the streamer. If you aren’t feeling taps or seeing slashes and follows within the first 30 minutes, it might be an effective decision to switch it up to the nymph rig. However, if you’re out there looking for one good fish, keep throwing the streamer. Now is the time that being stubborn and sticking with it can reward you with that trophy fish we’re all chasing. Be sure to experiment with how you are retrieving your fly when you are using streamers. Sometimes just stripping it a little faster or letting it dead drift will be all it takes to start getting hits.
Most of the dry fly action is gone with the occasional BWO hatch still happening. If you do see fish rising, don't be afraid to tie on the dry and try to make some magic happen. We’re entering an odd time of year so make sure you have some small BWO patterns or a few Parachute Adams in case you stumble across a hatch, size 20’s or smaller will be the most effective.
Continue to be patient and help others out when you can at the ramp so that everyone can pull out in an orderly and efficient manner. As it gets colder in the year it can be easy to forget your safe fish handling practices. We urge you to wet your hands and keep those fish wet! Avoid fish pictures for the gram whenever possible so that we can continue to have healthy fish populations for years to come.
- MRFC Guide Tyler Dimeola