Interest in trout fishing seems to drop off as the days shorten, and anglers spend more time indoors or pursuing other activities. In some ways this is great, empty parking lots and less competition on the water. The trout less wary.
But in other ways, this is a real shame, because October can be an excellent month for trout fishing. Some of my most memorable days on the river have been at this time of year.
From a trout’s perspective, October is a month of feeding, they need to pack on as much condition as possible before the lean winter months. Brown and brook trout, also have spawning on their mind. Spawning is an extremely energy intensive activity for them, so post spawn both species are even more vigorous in their search for food.
Daytime water temperatures are now low enough, for the trout to feed at any time of day. There is now little need for early starts, or late nights in order to time your fishing to when the trout are the most active.
River flows are still low, trout are concentrating
River conditions, unless there has been substantial rainfall in October are typically low, clear and cool. To counter the clear conditions, move slow, keep a low profile, and minimize unnecessary movement when close to the water edge. Long leaders and precise presentations are often needed.
In some areas, there could also be quite a few leaves on the water as the deciduous trees start o lose their leaves for the winter. Sometimes they can make retrieving a lure difficult.
What are rainbow trout doing in October?
In October, rainbow trout are typically feeding up and packing on the condition.
In lakes, and ponds they will likely be cruising the shallows looking for food. Few will linger in deeper water.
In rivers, most would have dropped backed from cold water tributaries and will be hanging out in the main rivers. They will likely be feeding in the ripples.
What are Brown trout doing in October?
Most brown trout will have spawning on their minds, in colder climates some might have already begun spawning, but elsewhere the urge to migrate to their spawning grounds will be strong.
During the spawn, brown trout are most likely to migrate at dusk and dawn, and rest up in deep pools during the day. Prior to the spawn, they are not overly interested in feeding, but they are becoming increasingly aggressive making them easier to target with streamers or lures.
Any brown trout that are not spawning, will be feeding up just like the rainbows above.
Insect activity in October
Hopper season is ending – but not quite time to put away the summer boxes.
October is a month of decline, the trees are losing their leaves, and flowers are turning into seeds. Insect activity is also on decline.
I am still seeping quite a few hoppers, and a surprising number of praying mantis and caterpillars this fall. Although, I have never thought about using a mantis fly. While I am not a fan of bee patterns, I have heard some people have great days on them in October, the hives are usually at their largest and the cooler mornings means many bees lack the energy to remain airborne.
While the summer terrestrial season is quickly coming to an end there is still worthwhile fishing to be had for as long as the weather remains warm. The best terrestrial fishing is usually in the afternoon when the insects are at their most active.
While on the topic of large dries, fall can also be a great time to experiment with a mouse fly. That is because the rodent population is approaching it’s maximum, and just like the trout they are spending a lot of time foraging for food which increases their chances of falling into a river.
Mayflies, Caddis and smaller dries
I have never been overly interested in fishing small dries, but there are still mayfly hatches. I will outline some of the more common species below and the expected time of emergence.
Out west, blue winged olive’s are a common species in many rivers during October. Their hatches, depending on temperature usually occur midday, between 11am-2pm and can last for several hours. Their hatches seem to be most intense on cold drizzly calm days.
On cloudy days, in the early evening, some rivers might also be having Flavolinas mayfly hatches. Fall Caddis, although rarely plentiful are also known to hatch during the afternoons. Finally, mahogany dun might also be hatching morning early in the month.
On the eastern seaboard, I have been told October is all about tiny olives mayflies. It might seem crazy, but sometimes flies as small as size 24 are required to match the hatch. Hatches can occur at any time of day, but as conditions cool they usually become later in the afternoon. The largest hatches typically occur on foul weather days.
Egg fishing – punish the egg theives
Like I already mentioned, both brown and brook trout will be spawning throughout October.
While I believe it is best practice, to leave the spawning trout alone and avoid disturbing them. (This includes not wading through their redds). There is still plenty of trout in the river that are not interested in spawning.
Some of these trout, even take up residents downstream of the redds and gobble up any loose eggs that get dislodged into the currents.
This makes October a prime month for fishing egg patterns, and one of the best spots to target trout is in the first deep pool downstream of a group of redds. Trout wait there because it gives them the best chance to grab any egg that might be floating by.
Streamers and lures for trout in September
October is also one of the best months for fishing streamers, lures and even spinners.
That is because both brown and brook trout are highly aggressive so close to the spawn. Try swinging lures through deep holes, or any likely looking holding water.
Hold on tight, because there can be some seriously large trout in the rivers.