There I was, sitting in the dentist’s chair waiting for the freezing to kick in. The day had come for my tooth to be pulled and I hadn’t been looking forward to it. Not long into the procedure it became quite unbearable and I needed to go to that “happy place”. I had never had to do this before, I didn’t know if I even had one, but a few calming breaths and I was there. Out of all the places I had been, I was surprised this was the one that had become that “happy place”, trout fishing in the fall!
Water still as glass and the smell of wet leaves beginning to decay, my wife and I walked out on the dock as it quietly creaked with each step. A few eagles perched on tree tops across the lake, attentively scouting for their next meal, so this seemed like as good a spot as any to fish. We had a plan of attack to try as many different lures and methods as we could. I started by tossing a one inch orange and gold Len Thompson spoon, retrieving at different depths and speeds to see if there was an aggressive bite to be had. My wife was using a #8 baitholder hook tipped with a nightcrawler chunk under a slip bobber suspended three feet down and had cast out about twenty feet. We both caught a few small brook trout, neither method out producing the other. I tried a few other colours of spoons and silver seemed to be the most productive. My wife continued still fishing, changing the depth of her offering and even trying some vertical jigging off the side of the dock. No real trophies were landed but the action was steady and reasonably consistent.
The Cold Morning
With the temperature hovering around zero and fog blanketing the lake in an eerie calm, we took our first casts. The sun was slowly on its way up and we already had a few bites, small rainbows and brook trout aggressively hitting our lures. It was here that still fishing or a very slow presentation out fished small cranks and spoons. A submerged log was within casting range and I thought it made for a good ambush site. I had tied on a small fly with some split shot two feet up and a slip bobber, casting out as near to the tree as I could, I would let it sit motionless, occasionally giving it small pops and tugs.
Sacrilegious to fly fishing purists, this technique had done me well in the past on a different trout lake, as well with some panfish species. After a minute or two of peckish bites and twitches with the bobber, it sucked under and I reeled in the slack line to set the hook. An exciting fight, and a few tense moments around the submerged log and the fish was to shore. The fish’s colours were stunning, the dark orange blending up to gold on its belly shone and the blood red and white stripe on its pelvic fins popped. It was displaying many of the colours we would see around us that cool fall day.
The Catch and Release Stream
A great place to take the kids and explore nature, hone your fly casting skills or just enjoy the sights and sounds of the water rippling from pool to pool, over boulders and gravel bottoms. We really enjoyed the short hike in and could have easily spent a full day there. The fish that were caught were small hatchery rainbows and brook trout, but they put up a great fight on light tackle. The water was crystal clear and we could sight fish with ease. Staying low to the ground and avoiding our shadows hitting the water was a big key to our success on that bright sunny day.
When the bite dies down, I recommend two options, change up the presentation or move to a new spot. My wife was quite content staying at our initial spot drifting her lure with the current, so after a bit of small spoon and spinner tossing I went in search of a hotter bite. Moving down the shorelines I would spend twenty minutes at each spot that seemed fishable. I had along a 5’6” light action rod with a slip bobber set up and my 6’ medium rod with a small Mepps spinner. I would spend ten minutes drifting my float set up and ten minutes tossing the spinner and then head on. A few larger trout were spotted but spooked very easily, dashing for sunken logs and boulders. I didn’t even have a chance to try to catch them but seeing these fish swimming freely in a stream was a true treat
Fishing isn’t always about the numbers caught, it is often about time spent with family, new sights and sounds, even getting out of your comfort zone. Getting to our spot and set up before the sun would rise was easy when you were greeted with clean crisp air and water as calm as glass. The peaceful moments to reflect on life and enjoy our surroundings intertwined with feisty trout will be treasured for years to come. Sometimes it’s about the one that got away, like the time my wife had her heart broken when a real brute spooled her. The experience was both humbling and intriguing and that is only one of the many reasons we will keep going back. Better prepared, highly motivated and intent on catching more trout from shore in the fall. n