The leaves on the trees are fading to yellow, orange and red. A true indication that Fall has arrived. The brown trout are also starting to go through some color changes as they put on their spawn suits of bronze, orange, and yellow. Their activity is increasing with cooler temps for both air and water pushing in. Aggressive and territorial tendencies replace the spooky, conservative mannerisms we were seeing the past month. Browns will start moving into the shallow gravel beds to spawn and rainbows will try to stack up behind them to snack on any eggs that drift away from the redds. However, this doesn’t mean to go out and target spawning browns in the shallows or drift flies through their redds in hopes of picking up an egg-gorging rainbow. Don’t fish or walk on redds!!! We’ll discuss this later in the article. Just know that if you were waiting for cooler weather and phenomenal fall dry fly and streamer fishing to arrive, now is your time! Put on your waders, dress warmly, and prepare to catch a lot of beautiful, hungry fish!
“Bugs, bugs, bugs! You want bugs?! We have ’em! Come on down to the river! Want bugs with wings?! We have those! Want bugs with no wings?! We have those, too! Brown bugs, green bugs, black bugs, orange bugs. Big bugs or small bugs… whichever you want, weeeeeeeeee’ve got ’em! Come on over to the bug breeding ball on the Missouri River where our bugs are ready to dance for you!”
What more can I say? We have bugs. Tricos are still around, but the spinner fall has slowed and hits closer to noon than before. They’re being found more in the upper stretches in quantity, but may not be around for much longer. Midges are a regular on the MO throughout the day. Pseudos are still popping out in the afternoon around the same time as the caddis. We have seen more tan and brown caddis in the lower stretches of the river, but you will still find caddis eaters in the upper stretches. October caddis are around. Big, orange, clumsy caddis. What may be more exciting than the caddis hatches are the BWOs starting to come off! I think both the fish and the anglers have been waiting for this moment. The fall feast will soon be upon us!
Flies to use in the fall on the MO should consist mostly of mayfly and caddis patterns. If you aren’t throwing streamers, these are the patterns to use:
For mayfly dries, try sizes #16-22 with the hi-vis CDC rusty spinner, hi-vis CDC BWO spinner, Para purple Wulff, purple haze, CDC Baetis Dun, CDC parachute BWO, hi-vis CDC trico, Harrop’s Last Chance Cripple BWO, Adams Parachute, Indicator Comparadun, or the Sprout baetis emerger.
For caddis dries, try sizes #14-18 with the cornfed caddis, the stocking wing caddis, the flambe caddis, the CDC elk hair caddis, Harrop’s Henry Fork caddis, double duck caddis, parachute caddis, X Caddis, CDC caddis, and Silverman’s Extended Body caddis. Don’t forget to bring your big orange stimulators and orange chubbys in sizes #8-12 to throw to those big October caddis!
For nymphs, we are still using a lot of different mayfly patterns ranging in sizes #16-20 and caddis patterns from #8-16 including the olive Psycho May, green machines, zebra midges, Love bugs, the Slim Shady, Darth Baetis, pearl lightening bug, silver lightning bug, purple lightening bug, Mirage nymph, two-bit hooker, UV Czech nymph, pink Czech nymph, zirdle bug, LaFontaine’s sparkle pupa, Tungsten dart, BH October caddis, and the cased caddis Czech nymph.
If you are throwing streamers, throw the Coffey’s sparkle minnow, Kreelex, sculpzilla, urchin bugger, Doc’s Articulator, CH rubber bugger, Galloup’s mini dungeon, Keller’s MT Mouthwash, Bloom’s MRS Bugger, and the regular wooly bugger.
As mentioned earlier in the report, stay off the redds!! Trout create redds by digging in the gravel beds, where they kick over the rocks and spread them out to lay their eggs. You can identify the redds by the bright gravel in comparison to the rest of the darker colored river bed. Eggs need highly oxygenated water to hatch so there are usually large spawning trout holding on these spots in riffles and other shallow areas with a good, steady current. Avoid fishing or walking on them unless you want to interrupt our fishery’s trout reproduction period and potentially kill off our trout before they’re even born. That’s an easy way to upset all the other guides and anglers on the river. That’s not saying you can’t fish to and catch brown trout during the spawn in the rest of the river. Just don’t target and harass them while they’re on the redds.
Tight lines, Y’all!