Fall is in the air-cooler temperatures, shorter days, some color on the hillsides, harvest season, awesome fishing, and the last month of Wisconsin trout season. The last 2 points are the most important on the fly fishing front. The October 15 Trout Season closure is a sense of urgency to get those last outings in before the season closes-weather’s perfect and fish are happy. The fishing is a combination of all good things-streamer fishing, hot mid-day grasshopper fishing, nymphing, and late afternoon-evening blue wing olive hatches. This is one of my favorite times of the year to be on the Driftless Area trout streams.
Depending what you like, you don’t have to fish a full day. If you like savage strikes on big dry flies, concentrate on hoppers between 10:30 and 4:00, if you like the small dry fly technical game concentrate on blue wing olive hatches between 4:00 and dark. Streamer fishing can be a morning or late afternoon/evening affair. This allows you to sleep in, have breakfast, do some yard work, take that hike with your spouse, and still enjoy a quality fishing outing. If you like all the fishing options, start in the morning, fish all day, and enjoy a good variety of fishing techniques.
The grasshopper fishing will be a continuation of August-mid September except now we’re fishing bigger sizes 10-12 and lighter colors yellow and tan. You also don’t need to start til 10:30 due to later sunrise, cooler overnight low temperatures, and cooler stream temperatures. If you arrive a bit late, no big deal but someone might be in the spot you want to fish. Streamer fishing will be best early-mid morning, 4:00 PM-dark on warm days; all day on overcast and cooler days. The trout are putting on the feed bag and big fish are showing themselves so don’t be afraid to fish bigger flies and 0X-2X tippet. You may catch the biggest brown trout of the season now. I got a monster brown trout 2 weeks ago when I was out checking water after heavy rains. I decided to fish for an hour under overcast skies and stained water and Wham it happened. Of course I left my camera in the car because I was “just fishing for an hour”-still have the memory though.
The late afternoon-evening blue wing olive hatches demand slow careful stalking, good observation, patience, magnifiers to thread size 20-22 flies, 5X-6X tippet, and good eyes. When you get into position pick the rising fish you want to target, and cast your fly 2 feet above the fish so you don’t lose control or sight of your small fly. Don’t cast if fish aren’t rising. This is slow, methodical, and technical fishing but if you take your time it will pay off in good dividends.