As the evenings draw in we say goodbye to summer but also welcome some of the best sport of the year. Dom Garnett has five great things to try this autumn.
“As we enter the autumn, it can sometimes feel like things are coming to an end. As you wonder where all the time went, all those summer plans you never quite got round to must be stowed away for the winter. And yet September signals the beginning of one of the best parts of the entire fly fishing year in so many ways! Whichever style of fishing you enjoy best, here are five ways to make the most of autumn:
Cast the Daddy of all Dry Flies
Whether or not we get that Indian Summer, September is prime time for one of the most exciting hatches of the year. From Yorkshire to darkest Devon, I’m already seeing stacks of these gangling beasts emerge; and the fish are just as excited!
Typically, trout fishers make an immediate link with stocked stillwaters, but the truth is that this large terrestrial fly is just as key on other venues. River trout are suckers for a daddy; so are chub, wherever you find rivers bordering on farmland or grassy plains. If the fish are really going for it, an agitated pattern such as a Muddler Daddy can work wonders. For trickier fish though, I’m very much looking forward to giving Wes Ower’s ingenious Reversed Daddy a cast. The profile on the water is fantastic- splaying wings and legs while carefully concealing that hook point!
One of my fondest memories of fly fishing on the Wye is of sitting and watching crane flies blown onto the water. Every few seconds a big mouth would come up and another would disappear with an audible gulp. No prizes for guessing what we caught our chub on that day.
Our blog on the subject of daddy longlegs fly fishing from last autumn has some great tips and a step-by-step daddy longlegs pattern for you to tie yourself. Meanwhile, Trout Catchers stock a wide range of our top patterns and materials, whether you want to grab and go or tie your own.
Gear Up For Pike on the Fly
Although people fish for predators all year round these days, my pike season generally waits until late September. The water temperature is the key thing here; not only do pike not bite well in warm water, they don’t tend to fare well and I would always rather wait than risk what is probably my favourite species of all.
You can already dust down the gear and get prepared beforehand, however. Do stock up with tough leaders, wire traces and no nonsense flies, because a big pike will quickly punish anything suspect in your kit. If you’re totally new to it, do approach a guide or a friend who can show you the ropes and, most vitally of all, sound fish handling and unhooking practise.
Should the urge to start fishing arise, rivers are my number one venue. It’s here I can be sure of cooler temperatures and active fish. I do carry plenty of weighted, faster sinking pike flies in addition to the classics though, which are a big help in flowing water.
Enjoy a Fry-Up
Talking of predators, another huge highlight is the fry season on so many waters. Those spindly little young from earlier in the year will now be juicy fingerlings. Do some homework by talking to other anglers and fishery staff to locate the concentrations, before bringing a box of suitable artificials.
Trout are number one for many of us and you have every chance of that best trout of the season. However, I get just as excited by the perch fly fishing and must get onto my local reservoirs this year.
The one tip I would give you for all fry bashing is to tackle up tough, because you just never know what will grab hold. I’d go with a seven weight rod and 8lb fluorocarbon leader as a minimum. The next pull could just be a monster, as even the very biggest fish capitalise on the plentiful supply of protein.
Stock up or, better still, get tying!
With the conspicuous looking gaps in fly boxes and a different arsenal required for later in the year, it’s high time to sort your fly boxes out. In my case, this can mean anything from stillwater lures to knocking up fresh pike flies. If you tie your own, do look out for the final rounds of our “Turrall Tie Off” in Total Flyfisher magazine each month, where you’ll find top tips and and some great prizes for your efforts.
If you’ve never done it before though, tying your own flies is an ideal hobby to get into on those dark evenings ahead. It’s fun, creative and incredibly rewarding to catch on your own patterns too. The best way to start fly tying is with a decent starter set, complete with tools, threads and basic materials (Turrall produce these starting at under £50, all available from Fly Fishing Tackle, Crediton).
If I had to recommend one book though it would be A Beginner’s Guide to Fly Tying by Chris Mann and Terry Griffiths. This handy volume started it all off for me some fifteen years ago- and it was with great sadness that I heard of Terry’s passing this year. It’s packed with user friendly knowhow, the diagrams are crystal clear and it’s as relevant today as it was when published in 1999.
Last Chance Saloon for River Game Fish?
As for classic river fly fishing time is now limited, at least for most wild trout. The fish will be hungry though, and the rivers are often in good nick as we head to the end of the season. Do get out there while you can!
Still time for salmon! (Image: Steve Roberts/ River Days Guiding)
With salmon and sea trout, however, you may just find that there is still extra time to be played. Certainly here in Devon and Cornwall, the season often extends to October and often the river will have that crucial extra water that was lacking for out summer efforts. Again, there is no time like the present to get out there.
Wherever the autumn takes you, I wish you enjoyable fishing. Do share your catches and look out for all the latest news, competitions and fly patterns on the Turrall Flies Facebook page.”