Fall is a wonderful time of year. The temperature has dipped to chilly but bearable levels, the leaves are turning, college football has started, and the brown trout fishing is phenomenal. Most people are aware of steelhead and salmon runs, but you probably didn’t know brown trout make a fall spawning run as well. Large browns living in lakes often move up into rivers, and stream dwelling browns move upstream into feeder creeks. During this time browns become more aggressive and energetic, making them very fun to catch.
Finding browns in the fall can be a bit intimidating for some anglers. They often don’t hang out in one place very long, even if they are there. It’s very easy to miss a run all together, or to simply end up in a spot that doesn’t see many browns. Start with areas that you normally see or catch brown trout during the rest of the year. Some of those fish will stay put, but they become more aggressive. Also check out the upstream end of any trophy brown fisheries, or major feeder creeks of a solid fishery. Of course, rivers and creeks feeding lakes with brown trout are your prototypical fall run locations. Look for things like waterfalls or dams that will stop the upstream migration, as fish will usually congregate below such a barrier. For example, there are a chain of mountain lakes here in my area that each have a few hundred feet of river between lakes. Even though there is not a huge amount of water to fish, you can almost always find a big brown or two immediately below each dam.
If I could only have one rod rigged up for fall run browns, it would be a 9′ 6wt. I like to keep two rods though, a 9′ 7wt and a 9′ 5wt. I keep the 5wt rigged with a flouro leader and a double nymph rig. I use this rig to fish your typical runs, focusing on pockets behind rocks or seems between feeding lanes and slow water. Make sure you are bouncing the flies across the bottom. The 7wt I rig with a sink tip line and large streamers. I’ve had the most luck this fall fishing the pinfish pattern from September’s Monthly Salt subscription. I use this rig to cover slow and deep pools and around any time of potential cover. Vary your retrieve. Often times the aggressive fall run browns want to chase something that is moving fairly quickly and erratically, but I’ve also had luck slowly twitching streamers as they drift by a promising lie.
You really have two options on fly selection. You can play on the fish’s aggressive nature during the run and throw large and colorful streamers, or you need to match the forage available. The streamers included in the Monthly Salt subscription are perfect for grabbing that reaction bite, and our Match the Hatch subscription will make sure you have the right natural patterns to fool weary brown trout.