Best trout fishing of the year? You gotta’ be kidding
Most outdoor people are thinking of the upcoming hunting seasons — I am, too. The earliest hunting seasons kicked off last Saturday, with the opening of the early goose and dove seasons. However, considering the status local stream flows, trout fishing is on my mind, too.
Now, you might be thinking, trout fishing in September, is this guy kidding?
August and September are usually the ho-hum months for trout fishing — the time of year to have a great outing. Stocking trucks stopped rolling months ago, and in most streams, the stocked trout have been picked over by anglers and depleted by predators. Naturally reproduced trout – the staple of year-round trout fishing — are present, but low flows and warm water temperatures can hamper fishing.
This year is different. Repeated heavy rains and the subsequent too-high flows kept many early-season-stocked trout anglers off the water – leaving more trout to be caught now. High flows also hamper the trout-catching abilities of herons and other predators. In addition, higher-than-normal stream levels have helped to keep water temperatures down and dissolved oxygen levels up.
I don’t think that I ever said this before at this time of year, but within the past week, I have experienced two of my best trout outings of the year. Last Friday, I fished an area-stocked stream and had good action from both stocked and wild trout. In fact, a feisty 16-inch rainbow that I brought to net was my third biggest trout of the year.
Just a few days prior to that, I had by far my best outing of the year on a small local wild trout stream. It was not the best because I caught the most trout, nor was it the best because I caught my biggest trout. It was the best because all morning I had consistent action, getting a strike or catching a trout at nearly every trout-looking spot.
The morning began uneventfully; in fact, I had originally planned to be out the day before. However, the air temperature shot up so fast that I decided to waited until the following morning.
Birds were singing and the stream level was perfect when I parked near the bridge. With high anticipation, I made my first few casts. But the retrieves yielded nothing. I did not see even a fish. At the head of the pool, I missed a trout, and then I landed a 6.5-inch wild brown.
Being able to place your lure at exactly the best spot on the first cast is critical to catching large numbers of trout. Unfortunately, the accuracy of my first cast to the next small brush-clogged pool left a lot to be desired. It crossed a small locust branch and twirled around, forcing me to walk up to retrieve my gold spinner. If any trout had been present, they were then surely spooked. This was certainly not the auspicious start that I had hoped for. However, it soon developed into an outstanding excursion.
My casts hit their mark and the next spot yielded wild brown trout of 11.5 and 10.5 inches. A bigger golden-flanked trout hit the following cast, and after a brief battle, I was measuring a colorful brown of almost 14 inches. My next trout threw the hook, and a trio of misses followed. Missed strikes and “get-offs,” as I call them, are all part of fishing and not a source of frustration when the action is good. I typically miss about 50 percent of the trout that hit.
Lady Luck balanced out and I landed the next four browns that struck my lure — 12, 11, 5.5 and 7 inches. Now I was off to a magnificent morning.
I will not bore you with a trout-by-trout description, but I caught and released several limits of trout while covering nearly a mile of this freestone stream. Every good wild trout stream has many more smaller trout than trophies, and this outing proved to be no exception. Even though I caught my share of little fish, 21 of the trout measured over 10 inches in length. All of the trout looked healthy and well fed — a sure benefit of lower water temperatures and increased flows.
My biggest brown was the almost-14-incher that I landed during the first 15 minutes of fishing. My second biggest brown measured 13 inches – caught two hours later. My trophy of the morning was a stunningly beautiful 11-inch brook trout.
It was truly an awesome morning.