Labor Day already, and another summer in the history books. The final weeks of trout season are slipping by quickly.
The good news is that it is September and, in my opinion, the second-best month for trout fishing in New Hampshire. June is perhaps the best month in our neck of the woods, but September is a strong runner-up.
The first hint of the changing season is in the air. Days are shorter and the nights are cooler. The swamp maples are already showing their fall colors. There is that sense of urgency in the air and the brook trout are also showing their fall colors, in advance of the spawning season.
Long gone are the black flies of spring and mosquitoes are far fewer. Nothing beats an early fall morning or the splendor of a fall afternoon on the river. September is the month of golden light.
Despite the lack of biting insects there is still a lot of insect life on the streams. Most anglers are of the opinion that all of the good mayfly hatches are over, however “in the fall think small,” Good hatches of blue wing olives are abundant, most warm afternoons.
I have experienced incredible hatches of blue wing olives on the lower Androscoggin River in the fall. On a typical drift of the Androscoggin, you will probably begin with a nymph rig. However, as the day warms up you, no doubt, encounter pods of rising fish eating Blue wing olives. Sometimes these fish turn out to be fall fish, but keep looking and you will find trout. When drifting the Andro, I always bring two rods, one rigged out for nymph fishing and the other with an imitation blue winged olive ready to go.
In early September, there are still plenty of grasshoppers along the banks of the rivers. Every so often a hopper will make the mistake of landing in the water and when he does, he is often met by a slashing strike from a large trout.
When wading the Saco in the afternoon, I most always start out with a hopper pattern. A hopper always makes a good searching pattern. Almost any pattern will do, but I still like my old reliable Bad Hair Day.
The terrestrial of most interest to fly anglers in September is the ant. There are always ants on the water, but in the fall, you are likely to encounter swarms of flying ants. Yes, ants do fly. Like bees they take to the air in swarms to mate and form new colonies. When they do, they can be found on the water providing trout with an opportunity to feast at their expense.
This time of year, I always carry a large box of ant patterns. The problem with ants is that they come in a large variety of sizes and colors, and it is important to have the right one when matching the hatch.
Well, in this case it is not a really a hatch although it is easy to mistake a swarm for a hatch. I once had a customer ask me for an ant emerger. It took me a while to explain to him that ants don’t hatch in water and what he was seeing was a swarm of flying ants.
In keeping with the theory of “in the fall think small” midges are very important this time of year. It can be very frustrating to fish with midges. It is surprising how picky trout can be when feeding on flies almost invisible to the human eye.
A Griffith’s Gnat is always a good all-around pattern to start with; make sure you have them in sizes 18 to 22. If you get hooked on midge fishing, you will broaden your range of patterns and be able to access what is going on and become more successful.
In the next couple of weeks, you will be sure to find me on a river somewhere. I definitely plan on hitting the Androscoggin at least a couple of times before the season ends. Another destination will be Maine.
The trout season in Maine ends the 30th of this month, so plan accordingly if you plan to go. Labor Day comes quicker each year as I grow older and so does the end of trout season
See you on the river.