Trout fishing is traditionally an early season opportunity, often forgotten about by the time summer rolls around. Near the end of trout season in early fall, however, educated and informed anglers capitalize on the best fishing of the year. It is the last kick at the can for these elusive fish and with a few tips, tactics, and knowledge of autumn behaviour, you too can enjoy some late season trout action!
Trout boast naturally-reproducing stocks throughout hundred of streams, lakes and rivers across Canada and the United States, yet their behaviour remains generally the same throughout. Trout, be they brook, rainbow or brown, are all cold species which require ideal condition in order to feed, grow, and reproduce.
During the summer months, trout can be found lurking in deeper water, seeking out any oxygen-rich areas they can find. These fish become almost completely dormant in the balmy water. As summer progresses, however, several key elements work in the trout’s favour. As the dog days of summer slowly pass, days grow shorter, the leaves begin to wilt and trout magically return to life.
Water temperature drops below the 68-degree Fahrenheit barrier for the first time in over three months. The highly temperature-dependant trout now rise up in the water column in search of available food and cover. In this pre-turnover period of the year, lake water remains stratified, with cooler water still found at the bottom. And when the surface temperature dips, water density increases at the surface. This weight and density on top eventually leads to a ‘mixing’ of the lake, which results in one constant temperature throughout. In most regions, trout season is over by mid to late-September, and the spawn has commenced by the time turnover occurs. We need to strike before it gets to this stage!
Locations to look for
Since lake productivity has dropped, submergent and emergent vegetation has dwindle by September, leaving fewer ambush sites for active trout to make use of, as well as less areas for forage to take refuge. The first area of a lake you should pinpoint when pursuing fall brookies are remnant areas of the summer weed growth. Even small clusters of duck weed or milfoil could potentially hold active fall fish, lying in wait for a quick meal. Seek out any obvious weedy areas that remain and you will surely find a few active trout.
There is one very accessory that should be considered when tackling late season trout. The use of a quality sonar equipped with a temperature gauge is an asset. Having the luxury of seeing a continuous readout of the surface temperature, as well as in-depth knowledge of underwater structure could spell the difference between a heavy fish bag, and one filled with only moss. Since cold water Salmonids are most easily caught, in water temperature between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 59 degrees F, being aware of surface temperature makes a huge difference.
Do Some Recon
To properly scope out a lake means to cover water effectively. The easiest way to achieve this is by trolling, be it in a canoe or a boat. The key is to find out where the active fish are located. Late season trout may hang out in just one or two different areas of the lake. If you do choose trolling, try not to use an outboard motor, as the noise may discourage the spookier fish from approaching. Always think smooth and quiet when trolling for this intelligent, sound sensitive quarry.
Late Season lures
Try different spoons, lures or spinners for late season brookies at this time of year. Many die-hard trouters swear by a certain spoon their entire lives and never switch. Others will mix it up constantly, clipping on a large wobbler for trolling, then replacing it with a small minnow-type casting spoon. I find Mooselook, Williams and Lake Clear wobblers, when rigged with a snelled hook and worm, to be excellent search baits.
A No. 4 or No. 6 size hook should be tied on a strip of monofilament, 6 inches to 12 inches behind the spoon. Williams’ Flasher and W55 Lite spoons are also effective at this time of year. When fish become active in cold water, try going with the shorter 6-inch lead, but stay with a longer lead when they are shy. The flash of the spoon brings trout in for a ‘look see’ while the worm offers something to bite.
When the cat’s away
Since this time of year is traditionally associated with hunting and the pursuit of big game, many enthusiasts have shifted interest toward moose or deer hunting. Consequently, many of the good trout lakes are devoid of anglers and prime for the picking. With little to no traffic or fishing pressure during during late season, a trout fishing niche is created. Best of luck during lake season, I hope you enjoy your best trout adventure ever.
Tight lines everyone, and make sure to read my exciting feature on catching stocked trout.