Freshwater: Last-Bite Trout - The Fisherman

Freshwater: Last-Bite Trout

Sure there are fewer trout stocked
Sure there are fewer trout stocked on average in the fall, but with many angler’s interest elsewhere there remain more fish for you to catch!

Sure there are fewer trout stocked on average in the fall, but with many angler’s interest elsewhere there remain more fish for you to catch!

Trout fishing in November? Absolutely!

Despite the blackfish, striped bass, bluefish and other saltwater distractions, not to mention the attentions demanded by the autumn sweetwater season walleye, chain pickerel, northern pike and panfish, now is a great time to target trout!

It’s not going out on a fly rod length limb to claim that the October-into-December period offers some of the best trouting opportunities of the year. Sure, tons of fish are released during the spring, many in put-and-take venues, but appreciable numbers in waters that will support them through the summer swelter and thus are available for the fall-through-winter calendar months.

In addition, several states in The Fisherman region boast autumn (read: October) stocking programs, including New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

While nowhere as many trout are liberated in the fall as during the spring, the corollary being there are nowhere near as many anglers plying the streams, rivers and still waters, because of the aforementioned attentions. Plenty of trout with minimal angling pressure equals an autumnal win-win salmonid situation.

Cold ‘N Slow

With water temperatures—particularly in brooks, streams and rivers—rapidly cooling into the lower fifties melding to the bottoming of the forties, trout metabolisms slow considerably. In the case of fall stockings in the shallower still waters, temps will stay a bit warmer for a longer period, but will inevitably dip into the aforementioned hunger-squelching temperature range. To be sure, trout will still feed, but it will be at a much slower pace. Unlike during the prime range late September through October, there will a marked (near zero when temps slide into the forties) reluctance to pursue, pulverize and otherwise punish spoons, spinners and plugs. Instead, it will be a deliberative examination before a commitment is made. This will manifest in a short turn of the head then an inhalation, or a slow turn and follow, then the take. We’ve experienced both over the many decades of Indian Summer-into-Yule Month trout fishing, and there is no rhyme or reason. It just happens.

Bait Busters

Live, preserved, scent-infused synthetic, and plastic offerings all play a successful role during the probe, pick ’n stick late fall-into-winter trout catching procedure. The modus operandi when hunger pangs are at the cold water tickle stage is to go smaller than what was offered during the spring, including corresponding hook sizes. Top offerings in moving waters include garden worms, fathead minnows, meal worms, wax worms, salmon eggs and kernel corn (where legal, of course!)

The latter pair is a limit maker in still waters under a small bobber. A knuckle of Berkley PowerBait, TurboDough, pair of Power Eggs, Gulp! Dough and pair of Gulp! Eggs on a slip sinker rig will also crowd the grill top.

Naughty Nymphs

The slow roll, and the much-hyped and effective high rod/bottom bouncing “Czech Nymph” techniques will bring trout to net. Aquatic insect activity is approaching and will reach its nadir with the winter chill, but there will still be nymph motion, albeit slight and slow, during the cold then colder Thanksgiving-into-Christmas and beyond stretch. Top chilly season patterns include the Copper John, the bead head Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear and Prince nymphs.

Wily Wets

If it weren’t for a forearm-thick brown that blasted a slow twitched #8 Black Gnat wet when snags cost a trio of bead head nymphs on the Garden State’s Wanaque River not so way back when, wet flies weren’t in the cold water scheme for me. Well, they should be, especially on the narrower-bank swims. It was a last resort move as dropping temperatures were starting to numb the fingers. The slow roll, then the short, slow strip retrieve will pique trout interest.

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